After the Perambalur district, seven village panchayat secretaries at the Jawadhu Hills Panchayat Union in Tiruvannamalai district have been suspended following malpractices in providing houses to 353 non-tribals of the 739 beneficiaries under the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (PMAY). The seven secretaries are among the 26 officials, who have been charged under Sec 17 (b) of the Tamil Nadu government civil service rules. In Jawadhu Hills, charges were issued to a BDO, 2 assistant engineers, 3 deputy BDOs, 2 overseers and an assistant, who worked in the area during 2017-18. Sources revealed that the action against the officials was the outcome of an ongoing inquiry related to the provision of houses to non-tribals under the PM housing scheme.
Collector KS Kandasamy said that as per records 353 persons, who were not residents of Jawadhu hills, have been extended assistance under the scheme. An official said that due to political pressure, officials were forced to disburse funds to non-beneficiaries under the scheme. Party functionaries did not want the benefits to go out of the hills, he added.
The malpractice came to light when beneficiary names and Aadhaar card numbers did not match. Payment normally is made to beneficiary’s bank account in four construction stages — foundation, lintel, roof level and completion. As the data did not match other than the construction sanction order, no money was remitted to their accounts. “Also, oral statements of construction did not match computer data,” Kandasamy said.
Alert officials detected malpractice in sanctioning of houses to beneficiaries with similar names. For example, instead of beneficiary Amsa, wife of Vediappan, the house was allotted to Amsa, wife of Arulmozhi of Ozhupakkam-Kosapet village in Wandavasi Panchayat Union, while in Thellar PU instead of a house being allotted to beneficiary Malliga wife of Subramani, it was allotted to Malliga, wife of Subrayan of Sitharakavur village.
Five officials each (BDO, Deputy BDO, AE, Overseer and assistant) in Wandavasi and Thellar PUs were respectively charged under Sec 17 (b) in August this year. Investigation into the misuse of funds under the scheme is continuing.