Updated: July 28, 2021 10:57:15 am
THE Pimpri-Chinchwad police is probing a scam of Rs 8 crore in which officebearers of a company in Mumbai, which provided conservancy staff for the Pimpri-Chinchwad Municipal Corporation (PCMC), siphoned money from the salaries of 289 staffers over the past four years.
Till now, seven people, including a woman, have been arrested in the case and eight others, including the directors of the company, have been booked.
The alleged scam started coming to light after some women conservancy workers held an agitation before senior officials of the PCMC a few months ago demanding a raise in their monthly remuneration. During discussions with these women, PCMC officials realised that at the time, the women were receiving monthly wages far lower than what was being billed to the PCMC by the labour contracting company.
An internal inquiry by the PCMC brought to light a possible multi-crore scam in the wages of the conservancy labourers and subsequently, the matter was handed over to the Pimpri-Chinchwad police two weeks ago. An FIR in this case was registered by Pramod Jagtap, who is the labour welfare officer with the PCMC.
The police have booked 15 people in the case who are either officebearers of the company, which is based in Bhayandar, or have been subcontracted by the company for providing labourers to the PCMC.
Explaining the modus operandi of the alleged scam, an officer who is part of the probe said, “The said company was given a contract to provide 289 conservancy staffers in December 2017. The labourers hired by the company for the PCMC were to be paid daily wages as per the existing wage norms. Based on the standard calculations, each labourer was entitled to a monthly remuneration of little over Rs 17,000. Considering some deductions of the provident fund contributions and other benefits, an amount of Rs 15,000 should have been deposited in the bank accounts of these 289 workers every month. However, the 15 suspects, which include directors, accountants, recruiting staffers and work supervisors, conspired to siphon off some money. These suspects forcefully took away the ATM cards and bank passbooks of these labourers, either by deceit or by threatening to fire them. These labourers were given their wages in cash and that too just Rs 9,000 per month or even less sometimes.”
Deputy Commissioner of Police Manchak Ippar said, “Based on the probe till now, it seems that the suspects have misappropriated funds to the tune of Rs 8 crore and have cheated the PCMC and the labourers since December 2017. Till now, seven persons, including a woman, have been arrested and more arrests are likely soon. Till now, 31 ATM cards, which the accused have taken from the labourers either by deceit or under duress, have been recovered. More arrests are likely.”
Officials said one of the key aspects of their probe was to find out if any PCMC officebearer was aware of these wrongdoings or involved in it.
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