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LabourGateScam: Goa Lokayukta orders ACB to file FIR, CBI investigations if politicians are involved

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Panaji: The Goa Lokayukta on Wednesday ordered State Anti Corruption Bureau (ACB) to file a First Information Report (FIR) against unknown persons in connection with the irregularities into the financial support scheme offered to building and other construction workers (BOCW) during COVID-19 pandemic by the State government.

Goa Forward Party (GFP) Vice President Durgadas Kamat had filed a petition before the Institution of Lokayukta alleging “scam” in the payments made to various beneficiaries under BOCW welfare fund.

The party had alleged that the workers of Bharatiya Janata Party were paid the money during COVID-19 pandemic, through this scheme, which was commissioned to provide financial assistance to the BOCW.

In its order issued on Wednesday, Lokayukta Justice (Rtd) P K Misra has asked the Anti Corruption Bureau (ACB) to file FIR “against unknown persons for conspiracy to siphon out funds of the Goa BOCW welfare scheme.”

The Lokayukta said that the conspiracy was hatched with a view to “distribute largesse by stuffing the beneficiary register of the fund with beneficiaries who are not BOCWs; with a view to securing the benefit offered under the welfare schemes by falsely holding out that they are BOCWs when they were not.”

Giving guidelines to the ACB, Lokayukta has said that the investigators may take sample checks of beneficiaries who have provided, full particulars on a random basis and investigate them and determine them to be true or false.

The order has also asked the sleuths to investigate on “who had motivated them to enroll and if they have undergone training, where, in what skill, how many hours/day and how many days.

“The labour inspectors may be queried on a similar basis of incomplete forms, how and why they had verified them, and whether they were coerced to do so,” the order reads.

The Lokayukta has also ordered that the private company, which was given the work of listing out beneficiaries, should also be investigated.

The order also mentions that the cases may be registered against the fake applicants, who have fraudulently represented themselves as BOCW.

“If the investigations directed above point to the possible involvement of high officials and politicians, subsequent investigation can be entrusted to the Central Bureau of Investigations (CBI),” it adds.

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