The state Lokayukta has ordered the Anti Corruption Bureau (ACB) to register a First Information Report (FIR) against unknown persons over the conspiracy to siphon welfare funds meant to be disbursed to Building and Other Construction Workers (BOCW) as pandemic aid.
The Lokayukta has sought registration of cases against each beneficiary who fraudulently represented as construction worker and labourer to avail benefits under the Goa Building and Other Construction Workers Welfare Board Assistance Scheme COVID-19.
The anti-corruption ombudsman, headed by P K Misra, also suggested that investigation may be entrusted to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) if it points to the involvement of high officials and politicians.
The Goa Forward Party (GFP) had filed a complaint with the Lokayukta on June 5 alleging multi-crore “labour-gate” scam of the BJP government by way of allotting money from the Migrant Workers Relief Fund to BJP workers during the COVID-19 pandemic. The GFP has alleged that around Rs 13 crore has been disbursed to 15,490 beneficiaries, who claimed to be construction workers and labourers during the pandemic.
While pointing out how the investigation should take place, the Lokayukta said the investigation agency may specifically take random sampling checks of beneficiaries, along with their applications, and investigate them to determine if they are true or false and also investigate into their real occupation. The Lokayukta has further asked the ACB to ascertain whether the beneficiaries had paid the registration fees and if they had received any assistance, then who had motivated them to enroll, and if they have undergone training, then
where, in what skill, how many hours/day and for how many days they were trained.
During the course of hearings, the labour department had caused delay in providing the information sought by the Lokayukta and attributed the delay in collecting and compiling the information to COVID-19 crisis.
The anti-corruption ombudsman has asked the ACB to also probe the role and involvement of labour inspectors on a similar basis of incomplete forms, how and why they had verified them and whether they were coerced to do so and their involvement in checking training programmes, and submission of reports.
The Lokayukta has further sought inquiry of the LabourNet representatives on the enrollment drive, their role in it, their modus operandi, interaction and coordination with labour, their role in obtaining BOCW IDs, the skilling programmes, the places of training, timings, length and duration of programmes, supervision by board/labour officials, preparation of bills etc.
LabourNet is a social enterprise that was hired to carry out registration registers of informal sector workers and provide them with an identity. All registered workers are issued a LabourNet identity card.