Punjab | Workers welfare funds to be used to hire 30 new cars

Published on Oct 24, 2022 01:50 AM IST

Despite already having 27 cars for official purposes, the building and other construction workers’ (BOCW) welfare board is all set to hire 30 more vehicles, the rent for which will be paid from the funds meant for the betterment of poor and underprivileged workers

The existing sets of wheels with the building and other construction workers’ (BOCW) welfare board include, 24 Tata Sumos, an Indigo and two Innovas. The Indigo and Tata Sumo cars were purchased in 2010 while the Innova was added to the fleet in 2014. (HT Photo)
The existing sets of wheels with the building and other construction workers’ (BOCW) welfare board include, 24 Tata Sumos, an Indigo and two Innovas. The Indigo and Tata Sumo cars were purchased in 2010 while the Innova was added to the fleet in 2014. (HT Photo)
By, Sangrur

Despite already having 27 cars for official purposes, the building and other construction workers’ (BOCW) welfare board is all set to hire 30 more vehicles, the rent for which will be paid from the funds meant for the betterment of poor and underprivileged workers.

As per rough estimates, the government will be spending around 1.5 crore to pay rent for the new cars.

The proposal regarding this was approved during the 29th board meeting, held recently.

Out of the 30 cars to be hired, 26 will be used by field officers and four by officials at the department headquarters.

The agenda tabled at the meeting read, “To run the work of 26 field offices and the headquarters smoothly, an agenda was passed for the purchase of 24 Tata Sumo and an Indigo car at the third meeting of the BOCW welfare board held on March 11, 2010. Now, 10 years have passed and maintenance of these vehicles is very expensive and some cars are not in the condition of being used.”

An insider, pleading anonymity, said the department has decided to take cars on hire as the existing ones don’t have air conditioner (AC) facility.

The existing sets of wheels include, 24 Tata Sumos, an Indigo and two Innovas. The Indigo and Tata Sumo cars were purchased in 2010 while the Innova was added to the fleet in 2014.

At present, the field officials use the Indigo and Tata Sumo while the Innova is used by the officials posted at headquarters.

“All cars meant for field officials have run less than 50,000 km in 12 years and only 2 lakh is being spent on each field car a year. This also includes the driver’s salary, fuel and maintenance charges. The cars are in good condition. Even tyres of cars have not been changed since these were purchased,” revealed a source.

Waste of money, says activist

Vijay Walia, organisation director of Centre for Social Change and Equity, an organisation fighting for the rights of unprivileged workers and disabled persons, said, “The board already has 27 cars. There is no need to spend welfare funds on more cars. The labour department is misusing welfare funds for its officials’ luxury.”

Labour commissioner, TP Phoolka, said, “The board members have just given their approval to take cars on rent. The cars are for the welfare of the workers and these will be used for registration of workers and extending benefits of welfare schemes’ to them.”

Can use 5% funds for administrative purposes, says official

Manvesh Singh Sidhu, principal secretary of the labour department, said, “Twenty-five vehicles of the board are not in a working condition. The expenses incurred on hiring the new cars will be less than what are we paying for the old cars. Besides, the BOCW Act allows us to spend 5% of the total benefit given to the beneficiaries on administrative expenses. And we can hire upto 30 cars within this limit.”

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  • ABOUT THE AUTHOR

    Harmandeep Singh is staff Correspondent and have specialisation in investigative reporting. He covers Punjab politics, mining, crime, school education, health, medical education, administration, labour department, brain-drain and rural areas besides burning issues of Sangrur and Barnala districts.

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