The state government’s labour department has suspended the head of the engineering department of the Maharashtra Labour Welfare Board (MLWB) for alleged irregularities amounting to Rs80 crore in the construction of buildings meant for the welfare of workers and labourers. A departmental inquiry by the labour commissioner has been initiated against Prakash Patil.
In an order issued two weeks ago by labour welfare commissioner Surekha Jadhav, the department received complaints of irregularities in the construction of buildings in various districts across the state. Independent MLA Bacchu Kadu and others as well as an NGO had complained to labour minister Sambhaji Patil Nilangekar about the irregularities.
“Based on the complaints, an inquiry has been initiated against the officer. The labour commissioner’s office will conduct it. Constructions taken place from 2005 will be inquired into to check for irregularities,” Sanjay Kamble, administrative officer, MLWB.
“The complaint about the construction of a building in Dondaicha in Dhule district is a serious one and needs to be probed into,” added Kamble.
The Citizen Justice Forum of Maharashtra has alleged involvement of a former minister of state. “The board has constructed the buildings using funds sanctioned for the welfare of workers without taking the government’s permission. It constructed a building at Dondaicha on a private land owned by the brother of a former minister of state of the labour department at a cost of Rs7.5 crore. The structure is being used by a college run by the minister. There several instances of misuse of funds for unwarranted constructions and repairs,” stated the complaint made to the labour minister Sambhaji Nilangekar.
Nilangekar told HT that the labour commissioner has been asked to submit a report, which will be scrutinised by the department’s principal secretary. “Strict action will be taken against officials involved,” he said.
Ashok Paradkar, a board member and representative of the workers, said, “A probe by officers from the labour commissioner’s office is not sufficient. A criminal case should be registered as the constructions involved illegalities and wasted a huge amount of taxpayers’ money.”
Patil, however, has denied the allegations and said he is willing to face the probe.