A Jharkhand government official was forced to flee home and office after receiving “death threats” for exposing an alleged salary scam in the state’s water resources department.
Executive engineer of the department Arun Kumar claimed to have detected, after digitisation of employees profile in May this year, that many lower-rung employees, posted in Palamu’s Medininagar region, had been drawing salaries since 2008 in excess of their pay scales.
Kumar claimed he has been forced to stay in a rented flat in Ranchi for the last one month after employees and local political leaders allegedly threatened him with dire consequences after he “exposed the scam.”
“I had asked for security but it was denied,” he said.
According to one estimate in the past six years some 150 whistleblowers have allegedly been harassed or jailed for exposing corruption in India, while as many as 20 have been killed.
Kumar said some officials either deliberately or otherwise changed the pay grade of a few employees in 2008, when the record was maintained manually.
The anomaly came to light when Kumar, who also happens to be drawing and disbursing officer (DDO) of the division, noticed that two employees were drawing more than what was entitled.
“They were drawing Rs 2000 and Rs 1800 respectively as per their grade erroneously mentioned in the manual format. They were also getting 3% increment on their salaries every year as per the rule. However, as per their actual pay grade, their entitlement was Rs 1900 and Rs 1650 respectively,” Kumar said.
When he wrote to the superintending engineer seeking suggestion to deal with the irregularities, the former advised him to change the designation of the two employees.
However, the superintending engineer withdrew the letter after a month, Kumar said.
Thereafter, he found that salaries of 16 other employees too were inflated and so he withheld their salaries from September.
Subsequently it was discovered that the scam was of much bigger magnitude than what was presumed, Kumar claimed.
“At least 300 employees are overdrawing salaries, Kumar said.
To unearth the scam, he urged the secretary of the state water resource department as well as finance department and accountant general to conduct an inquiry into the irregularity.
Kumar has been residing in a rented flat of Ranchi for last one month after employees and local political leaders allegedly threatened him with dire consequences. “I had asked for security but it was denied,” he said.
Water resources department secretary Sukhdev Singh said that an enquiry team would soon be set up to look into the matter.
He, however, said the executive engineer has no right to hold up employees’ salary. “He should at least disburse their supposed actual salary,” he said.
The local unit of the Jharkhand Rajya Nadi, Ghati Evam Sinchai Karmachari Sangh refuted the allegation of the executive engineer.
“The irregularities were found in salaries of only one or two employees. But, he deliberately held up the salaries of all employees to harass us,” said Dharmraj Tiwary, regional president of the association.
On the demand for an enquiry, state finance secretary Amit Khare told Hindustan Times that the finance department could not carry out an enquiry since it was raised by an official. “It comes under departmental proceeding,” he said.