Tribune News Service
Chandigarh, September 25
Two officials — the Director, Finance, and an accountant posted at National Health Mission (NHM) — siphoned off Rs 75 lakh from accounts of the National Health Mission during the Covid outbreak. The fact came to the fore in an inquiry of the department and a special audit.
The officials were so brazen in siphoning off the money that besides withdrawing cash, they even transferred around Rs 8 lakh from NHM accounts to their own.
According to sources, Finance Director Neeraj Singla and accountant Mandeep Kaur have been indicted in a departmental inquiry as well as a special audit carried
out by the audit wing
of the government.
Sources revealed Singla, in connivance with the accountant, had been continuously withdrawing cash from the accounts of the National Health Mission during the financial year 2019-20 and 2020-21. The lid off the scam was blown when former Health Minister Balbir Sidhu was tipped off and he ordered a probe. Punjab Health Systems Corporation Director Manjeet Singh was asked to conduct the inquiry.
Before the inquiry, a special audit was also carried out by the internal audit cell of the government and it was found that these officials would cite emergency requirement like payment to labour and transportation and withdraw the huge sums of cash from NHM accounts.
The inquiry report found around Rs 25 lakh was spent on the work which was never authorised by any official. Apart from that, Rs 8 lakh was transferred to their accounts; Rs 17.45 lakh was withdrawn in excess than the bills produced; Rs 15 lakh cash was withdrawn of which no entry was made; around Rs 3 lakh was withdrawn on the pretext of making payment but later the entries were deleted from the software; and Rs 1.5 lakh was withdrawn on the pretext of giving cash incentive to officers/officials on the occasion of Diwali. Apart from that, Rs 17.54 lakh payment was made without following General Financial Rules.
Singla was earlier Manager, Finance, and was promoted to the post of Director. He has refused to comment. However, accountant Mandeep Kaur said she was a
junior official, and was only following the directions of her seniors.
NHM Managing Director Kumar Rahul said he was examining the inquiry report and an appropriate action would be taken against the erring officials.
Was only following orders: accountant
Neeraj Singla was earlier Manager, Finance, and was promoted to the post of Director. He has refused to comment. However, accountant Mandeep Kaur said she was a junior official, and was only following the directions of her seniors.
How money meant for virus-hit was ‘misused’
Rs 25 lakh Spent without authorisation
Rs 8 lakh Transferred to own accounts
Rs 17.45 lakh Withdrawn in excess than bills produced
Rs 15 lakh Cash of which no record found
Rs 1.5 lakh Withdrawn on pretext of Diwali bonus
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