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Skill Centres: Welfare board set to divert workers' fund

Legal Dept, CAG had red-flagged the move

Skill Centres: Welfare board set to divert workers' fund

Photo for representational purpose only.



Tribune News Service

Karam Prakash

Patiala, June 23

The Punjab Building and Other Construction Workers’ (BOCW) Welfare Board is once again planning to divert labour funds for construction of four skill development centres in the state.

Earlier, the Legal Department and the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) of India had red-flagged the move. The work at these centres had to be stopped in December 2021. The legal opinion was sought by the Labour Welfare Board after The Tribune had raised the issue of misuse of Labour Cess (meant only for welfare of the construction workers).

Not true, claims official

We will not touch welfare funds. The Central Government has sought a report from us, following which we have asked for a status report from the Punjab Police Housing Corporation as they had built the skill development centres. —SS Gurjar, principal secretary, labour department

However, the Labour Department has now written to the Punjab Police Housing Corporation’s managing director and sought a detail report to complete the remaining work of skill centres. The corporation had been given the contract to construct the skill development centres.

The CAG report tabled in 2020 in the Vidhan Sabha had discovered that Rs 56.78 crore of welfares schemes, which violated Section 22 of the BOCC Act 1996, was spent on these development centres.

When questioned about restarting the work, SS Gurjar, Principal Secretary, Labour Department, said, “We will not touch welfare funds. The Central Government has sought a report from us, following which we have asked for a status report from the Punjab Police Housing Corporation as they had built the skill development centres.”

Vijay Walia, labour rights activist, said, “Instead of recovering Labour Welfare Fund, which was spent on the skill development centres, the Labour Board is shamelessly planning to spend more funds. CM Bhagwant Mann should order a Vigilance probe.”

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