‘Labourer worked at two places at a time’

Jan 11, 2017, 01:11 PM IST

Nagpur: After expose of financial irregularities in plantation works by paying wages to dead persons in 2016, more such wrongdoings have come to the fore during the same period in Bhandara division.

Information sought under the RTI Act by social worker Puranlal Sukhramji Uke (57), Asoli in Gondia district, claimed that lakhs of rupees were swindled by forest officials by preparing fake vouchers to pay wages to labourers who did not actually work.

The work relates to fire lines, natural regeneration, soil conservation etc. Shockingly, in one of the cases, a labourer was shown working at two places during the same period.

Uke sought muster of labourers who were deployed in Vitpur, Lendezari, Chikhli, Devnara, Khapa, Alesur, Lavada forest areas in Lendezari range and found that, as per the muster, only few labourers worked but most of them who did not were also paid wages by fake signatures and thumb impressions.

“Those who worked were paid Rs 180 per day wage but muster showed wages were paid as per Rs 267.50 rate. Those who did not work were also paid as per Rs 267.50. Such fake vouchers amount to lakhs,” said Uke.

Citing an example, Uke said Maniklal Kanhiya Mishra is a pandit by profession while Gajanan Mangru Awthare never did forestry works, but their names appear in the muster.

“Five months ago, I registered a complaint with the deputy conservator of forest and demanded to identify every labourer mentioned in the muster but there is no action till date,” said Uke.

Lendezari RFO SV Madavi could not recall about the RTI application and denied fake labourers were deployed for forestry works but at the same time replied that if it has happened an enquiry can be conducted.

Asked why wages were paid in cash, Madavi said most of the labourers do not have bank accounts. Wages were paid in cash despite state government making it mandatory to deposit wages in bank accounts even in remote areas.

In another case in Mangarli under Nakadongri range, a labourer Ghanshyam Lilaram Aswale was shown to be working in two places during the same period.

Payment voucher of Aswale shows he worked from February 15 to 24, 2015 in compartment number 356B for plantation works and was paid Rs 22,470. However, he was also shown at work from February 16 to 28, 2015 in compartment number 41 in Mangarli area where he was paid Rs 3,478 as wages.

Jamkandri RFO PD Chakole says the mess was done by his predecessor SV Londhe who retired. “Aswale was shown working in two places by mistake and round officer concerned HS Pathan is responsible. I have inquired into it and have asked senior officials to look into the matter,” said Chakole.

In yet another irregularity, a tractor owner Dilip Sakharam Gheble of Mangarli was paid Rs 6,000 for transportation of timber vide voucher issued on June 24, 2015. However, Gheble filed a police complaint with Gobarwahi police station that fake voucher has been prepared and he had not transported any timber.

Uke says if senior officials are not involved, why action is not being taken against tainted foresters involved in the bunglings.

Courtesy:-Times Of India

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