A Punjab government inquiry into the misuse of Red Cross funds, following an HT expose, in Ludhiana, Sangrur and Patiala districts has established similar pattern of “misuse and abuse of power” by several deputy commissioners in other districts as well.
The inquiry reports of four divisional commissioners submitted to the state government recently show how lakhs of rupees of the Indian Red Cross Society were frittered away over the years by officials running the Red Cross branches. Most reports say the funds went into purchasing bed linen, household appliances, clothes, blankets, crockery, carpets and into paying telephone, car fuel and restaurant bills.
In his report, SR Ladhar, divisional commissioner of Jalandhar division, says: “Expenditure on the camp office by most of the DCs has been made lavishly without keeping in mind the money collected for the Red Cross in the name of the poor…”
On December 2 last year, HT had highlighted the misuse of society funds for personal expenses by senior IAS officers who have been branch presidents by virtue of being the DCs of their respective districts. This was revealed after a Ludhiana-based NGO, Resurgence India, obtained expenditure details from some district Red Cross socities under the Right to Information Act.
Hitender Jain of Resurgence India said: “The government inquiry has vindicated our stand.”