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Delhi HC to hear plea seeking CBI probe into ‘misappropriation’ of Rs 3,200 cr workers’ fund

The HC will hear the PIL alleging misappropriation of funds meant for migrants and construction workers in Delhi on 16 June.

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New Delhi: The Delhi High Court will next week hear a PIL seeking CBI probe into alleged misappropriation of funds worth Rs 3,200 crore that is meant for migrants and construction workers in the national capital.

The matter came up Monday before a single-judge bench of Justice V. Kameshwar Rao, who posted it for hearing by a division bench of the high court on 16 June.

Every state has its own ‘cess fund’ which is collected from the owners/employers of building and other construction works, under the Building and Other Construction Workers (RE & CS) Act 1996, by taking one per cent on the cost incurred on projects.

The petition, filed by PT Deendayal Upadhyay Smriti Sansthan, says the Delhi cess fund has so far collected nearly Rs 3,200 crore. This fund is managed by the Delhi Building and Other Construction Workers Welfare Board.

Filed through advocates R. Balaji and Yogesh Pachauri, the PIL alleges that dishonest employees of the board, trade unions and other middlemen have been misappropriating this fund.

It, therefore, seeks a CBI probe to “weed out nearly 4.5 lakh bogus beneficiaries who are availing the benefits which should ideally go to the genuine and bonafide construction workers”.

The petition also seeks immediate auditing of accounts of the board with regard to the cess fund, by the Comptroller and Auditor General of India or any court-monitored authority.

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Genuine workers being deprived

The petition points out that the Delhi government had earlier announced Rs 5,000 per month for all registered construction workers. But when volunteers of the PT Deendayal Upadhyay Smriti Sansthan asked migrant construction workers about this transfer of money, they denied having received it.

The PIL claims to have made “discreet enquiries” from several stakeholders, including the labour department, which revealed “rampant corruption in registration of bogus construction workers”.

It also alleges registration of non-construction workers as beneficiaries for huge sums of money and with a condition that they pay 40-50 per cent of the benefit amount to authorities.

Most of these “bogus” construction workers, it says, have their own houses in Delhi.

Such an act, the PIL adds, have deprived genuine construction workers of their entitlement from the cess fund that was constituted for them.

“It has been very shocking that the authorities/unions have registered lakhs of non-construction workers (some of them rickshaw pullers, hawkers, factory workers, tailors, house wives etc.) as construction workers solely to illegally pilfer the cess funds which is exclusively collected for the welfare of genuine construction workers,” the petitioner submits.

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