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PM’s relief fund misused
Rs 40.65 crore contributions, only 30 crore deposited
Tribune News Service

  • CIL using money as working capital; 4.5 lakh staff duped
  • Rs 47,142,810 has been diverted to other funds/purchase of relief materials etc.
  • Rs 59,382, 353.04 is still lying with CIL
  • Company using donated money as working capital

New Delhi, October 22
A 38-year-old employee of South Eastern Coalfields Limited (SECL) has exposed Coal India Limited (CIL) and its subsidiaries for betraying 4.5 lakh employees by allegedly misusing their hard earned money donated for the much trusted Prime Minister’s National Relief Fund.

Mujibur Rehman and his colleagues donated a day’s salary whenever there was a national calamity to lend a helping hand to their fellow citizens in distress. But when he sought information about the fate of their donations under the RTI Act last year, he was shocked to know that almost 25 per cent (more than Rs 10 crore) of the total amount deducted as voluntary contributions was still lying with the company and was never sent for the philanthropic purpose for which it was raised.

The National Campaign for Peoples’ Right to Information has demanded that the PMO registers an FIR. It has said CIL should be directed to deposit the pending amount to the fund along with interest without any further delay. The interest should be deducted from the salaries of the guilty officials.

An enquiry conducted by the Prime Minister’s Office on the directions of the Central Information Commission in August this year confirmed Rehman’s suspicions.

The enquiry report dated September 14 inferred that only Rs 30 crore out of the donation of Rs 40.65 crore was sent to the fund. “Rs 47,142, 810 has been diverted to other funds/purchase of relief materials etc., and Rs 59,382, 353.04 is still lying with CIL. It is evident from CIL notification that the funds have been collected for the fund pending amount to the fund along with interest without any further delay. The interest should be deducted from the salaries of the guilty officials.

An enquiry conducted by the Prime Minister’s Office on the directions of the Central Information Commission in August this year confirmed Rehman’s suspicions.

The enquiry report dated September 14 inferred that only Rs 30 crore out of the donation of Rs 40.65 crore was sent to the fund. “Rs 47,142, 810 has been diverted to other funds/purchase of relief materials etc., and Rs 59,382, 353.04 is still lying with CIL. It is evident from CIL notification that the funds have been collected for the fund and employees have been given income tax relief based on the contribution so made. In so far as interest on the funds lying with CIL, it has been informed that no separate head has been created for the donations to the fund by CIL and it has kept the money as working capital.”

The enquiry conducted by a director in the PMO also pointed out that funds meant for the Prime Minister’s fund and National Defence Fund (NDF) were not forwarded to them in time. “Part of the funds collected at the time of Kargil war for the NDF have been transmitted as late as August 27, 2007, after the initiation of this enquiry. The Prime Minister’s National Relief Fund contributions amounting to Rs 7,01,73,000 collected in 2005 meant for Jammu and Kashmir earthquake have not been transmitted till date.”

Another curious inference drawn by the PMO relates to the Gujarat earthquake where CIL deposited Rs 12 crore against a collection of Rs 10,44,48,312.38. The director in the PMO has noted in his report, “CIL deposited excess funds amounting to Rs 1,55,51,678.62 more than the actual collection.”

The PMO has observed that money meant for the Prime Minister’s fund was forwarded to other organisations and relief material was purchased using the fund money without any authorisation. “Funds have been kept in an unauthorised manner and were/are being used as working capital, which is against norms. The delay and unauthorised use of the fund donations as working capital has also caused loss of interest to the Prime Minister’s fund.”

The report has further said income tax relief was given to employees who contributed to the fund without sending the donations collected to the PMO and without requisite receipts from the relief fund. “This could be a violation of income tax laws.”

Addressing media persons at the Press Club here today, Rehman complained that he was being harassed by his employers for moving an application under the Right to Information Act for getting to the bottom of the truth.

Rehman, who has been working in SECL since 1991, said he was transferred twice from the time he began invoking the provisions of the RTI in 2006 and threatened by the CMD that he would be on the road if he pursued the case further.

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