Punjab Building and Other Construction Workers' Welfare Board (PBOCWWB) recently ordered a probe in the registration of construction workers here following a complaint of their fake registration by officials to reap the benefits of the medical claim.
Director of Punjab Labour Department HS Nanda stopped the payment of medical claims worth Rs 1.80 crore following complaints of fake registration of construction workers and directed Sangrur deputy commissioner (DC) Arshdeep Singh Thind to verify all the registered construction workers in the district who had sought medical claims.
"Soon after the complaints, I stopped the payment of medical claims, and asked the concerned DC to verify the registered workers. Now the payment will be released after the verification," Nanda said.
Thind said, "I have directed all the sub-divisional magistrates to verify the workers in their areas following the instructions from the labour department, so that the payment could be released."
Cops of Sangrur Sandar police station had arrested Gurmeet Singh on September 9 last year for allegedly selling red books (workers' identity cards) having signature of labour inspector (then grade 2) Kewal Krishan. The police had recovered 37 red books from his possession, which was confirmed by Sangrur assistant labour commissioner SK Bhoriwal.
Sources in the labour department disclosed that Sangrur DC's office had sought financial aid for the medical assistance of several construction workers in May last year, without prior approval from the chief medical officer (CMO).
Putting a question mark over the authenticity of the medical claims worth 3.64 crore for construction workers, which was made by former Sangrur assistant labour commissioner via DC's office in July last year, Bhoriwal had written a letter to PBOCWWB secretary demanding verification of the registered workers before disbursement of the payment.
In the letter, Bhoriwal also demanded a probe into the bills worth Rs 15 lakh that were submitted without the approval from the Sangrur CMO.
However, when asked about action against Krishan, the director of Punjab labour department said, "We are verifying the facts. Action will be taken against the official if he is found guilty."
HT had published a story 'Smelling fraud in medical claims, Sangrur asst labour commissioner demands probe' on January 16, bringing the matter to light. The Punjab Labour Department has decided to make a routine verification of all construction workers. firstname.lastname@example.org