New Delhi [India], November 30 (ANI): A preliminary inquiry by Delhi Anti-Corruption Branch (ACB) has uncovered a scam involving "bogus, fake and ghost registrations of non-construction workers as construction workers" and "fraudulent disbursal of funds to the tune of Rs 900 crore" by AAP government's Labour Department, sources said on Wednesday.
ACB sources said that investigation of just 800 random registration forms of individuals as "construction workers" out of a total of about 17 lakh persons registered as such workers by the Delhi Building and other Construction Workers Welfare Board (DBOCWWB) has uncovered the tip of the iceberg, "with 424 out of the 800 being established as fake".
The sources said there were bizarre instances and individuals pursuing B-Tech and M.Com were registered as construction workers and got sums up to Rs 15,000 transferred into their accounts.
They said scores of individuals living in Gorakhpur, Sant Kabir Nagar, Muzaffarpur, Jaunpur and Baghmer in Rajasthan, who had never visited Delhi, got themselves registered and availed of financial transfers from DBOCWWB.
The Board is chaired by Deputy Chief Minister Manish Sisodia, who also is Labour Minister.
"People running kirana shops, working in factories, domestic helps, export houses, tailoring units and Momos Stalls were registered as construction workers by the AAP Government and paid thousands from the DBOCWWB," a source said.
ACB sources said that of the 424 found to be fake by applying basic computer algorithms, 206 had suspicious mobile numbers and addresses.
Upon verification of the registration forms, the beneficiaries were contacted and trails led to other states, different professions and economically well-off backgrounds, according to sources.
"Apart from these, 44 had a common fake address of Gautam Colony, Narela, 37 had a common fake address of Kapashera, 38 had a common fake address of Burari and 33 were permanent residents of Gorakhpur and Sant Kabir Nagar in UP. A majority of these had nothing to do with construction works," the source said.
The Directorate of Vigilance (DoV) and Anti Corruption Branch (ACB) of the Delhi Government are investigating charges of bogus, false and ghost registrations of non-construction workers as construction workers and fraudulent disbursal of funds to the tune of Rs 900 crore to such bogus and ghost workers. An FIR had been filed under various sections of Prevention of Corruption Act in May 2018.
"Chief Minister Arvind Kejriwal had recently declared further disbursal of Rs 5,000 to 10 lakh such 'workers', about 8 lakh (75 to 80 per cent of the total strength) of which are said to be bogus and false. The attempt of course was to make money out of the disbursed amounts and bribe the voters ahead of the forthcoming municipal polls in the city," the sources said.
They said that the "facts were brought to the fore" in the complaints lodged by the members of the DBOCWW Board.
In a representation submitted to the Delhi Lt Governor on September 22 this year by various apolitical bodies representing construction workers in a meeting with him "irregularities of the Board have been brought out" and these were sent to the Chief Secretary on September 26, 2022, with instructions to get an inquiry done and submit a report, the sources said.
The delegation also informed that at present the Board is having funds to the tune of approximate Rs 3000 crore at its disposal and alleged that the funds of the Board are not being spent on the schemes/welfare activities mandated by the Delhi Building and Other Workers' Welfare Act, (Regulation of Employment And Conditions of Services) Act, 1996 and are instead "being utilized for activities outside the purview of the Act and rules", the sources said.
Earlier on November 4, BJP had alleged corruption in the registration of construction workers in Delhi and said that fraud took place in the registration of nearly 2 lakh construction workers between the period of 2018 and 2021.
Addressing a press conference, BJP national spokesperson Sambit Patra alleged that 2 lakh out of the 9 lakh construction workers who registered in Delhi Building and other Construction Workers Welfare Board in three years were fake.
"The registries made under the AAP have been severely mischievous. There has been an existing scam to the tune of crores of rupees. The candidates are not real entities, but proxies with the ghost registries, Patra said.
"Almost 9 lakh people were registered as construction workers by AAP between 2018 and 2021, of which almost 2 lakh were fake as per an investigation. Here, 65,000 construction workers had only one mobile number and this is how the fraud took place," he alleged.
"Over 4,000 had the same permanent addresses. This is only preliminary investigation which states that about 2 lakh such registrations are fake and the number can increase to much more," he said. (ANI)