‘Ghost’ employees of Punjab PWD withdrawing salary in crores

Over the past three months, three instances of clerks pocketing the salaries of employees who do not exist (ghost staffers) have been reported across the state.

punjab Updated: Feb 09, 2018 12:19 IST
Ravinder Vasudeva
Ravinder Vasudeva
Hindustan Times, Chandigarh
Punjab news,Punjab pWD,Scam
This loot comes at a time when the state government is struggling to pay its actual employees. (Photo: ThinkStock)

Three weeks after the state vigilance bureau arrested a salary clerk with the Amritsar public works department (PWD) for withdrawing salaries amounting to Rs 1 crore in the name of two ‘ghost’ sub-divisional officers (SDOs) since 2014, senior officials fear the scam could be much bigger.

Over the past three months, three instances of clerks pocketing the salaries of employees who do not exist (ghost staffers) have been reported across the state.

The amount paid as salaries in these three cases is around Rs 3 crore, according to officials.

This loot comes at a time when the state government is struggling to pay its actual employees.

According to norms, a ‘salary’ clerk with the PWD submits a list of employees for whom salary is to be disbursed to the district treasury. Before it is sent to the treasury, an executive engineer (XEN) verifies the list of employees.

The treasury automatically debits the salary to the accounts of employees on the list.

How the scam plays out

In the case reported from Amritsar’s construction branch (famous as PWD Branch 2) in January, the vigilance bureau FIR records that salary clerk Gurvir Singh showed two fake SDOs, and had been withdrawing their salaries since 2014.

Gurvir has been suspended and is in jail.

This case came to light after a senior official of department acted as a whistle-blower and wrote a letter to auditors. Gurvir was arrested on January 14.

“The salary clerk used to add a few names on the list while sending it online to the district treasury,” said Jasvir Singh Sodhi, Xen, PWD’s Amritsar branch.

In a similar case in the electrical wing of the department, again in Amritsar, a clerk, who is Gurvir’s relative, withdrew around Rs 40 lakh from district treasury.

He also showed two ghost SDOs as employees. He was booked in January and faces a vigilance case.

Mohali PWD returned Rs 25 lakh to treasury

In another case, this time from the PWD’s Central Works Division in Mohali, officials withdrew Rs 1 crore from the district treasury on ghost employees’ name. It is learnt that this division has returned Rs 25 lakh to the treasury after the withdrawals led to raised eyebrows in the division.

Under what head did the treasury accept back this money is not known. Executive engineer Naresh Inder Singh Walia rubbished any suggestion of a scam. “The issue is not in my knowledge,” he told HT.

“The scams that have been reported are just the tip of the iceberg. If the record of all divisions is checked, it will be an eye-opener. Fake employees have been found in Patiala and Fatehgarh Sahib as well. Cases are being hushed up,” a senior official of the department told HT

First Published: Feb 09, 2018 12:08 IST