ALSU reiterates allegations against APB&OCWWB chairman, JWCAPTU comes to his defence

Staff Reporter

ITANAGAR, Aug 17: The Arunachal Law Students’ Union (ALSU) on Monday reiterated its allegation against Arunachal Pradesh Building & Other Construction Workers’ Welfare Board (APB&OCWWB) Chairman Jalley Sonam of abusing his power and mismanaging the board’s funds.

Addressing a press conference here, ALSU president Yurum Tamin claimed that in the 2018-19 financial year, “a skill development scheme training for certification scheme under the recognition of prayer learning (RPL) for construction workers, amounting Rs 14 crore, had been given to a West Bengal-based firm, M/s Sunita Infotech.”

Tamin claimed that 20 percent of the total budget of the board has to be spent in the skill development scheme under the RPL.

“As per information accessed through RTI from the ministry of skill development, we came to know that M/s Sunita Infotech was not empanelled in the ministry. There are only nine empanelled firms which can be awarded works under the ministry of skill development. However, violating the guidelines, Rs 14 crore skill development programme scheme was awarded to M/s Sunita Infotech,” Tamin claimed.

He further claimed that, as per the guidelines of the RPL scheme, all registered workers who participate in RPL training programmes are supposed to get compulsory wage loss compensation.

“There was no provision of wage loss compensation for poor workers in the abovementioned contract.

The cost of wage loss compensation component has been converted into refreshment cost, which is completely violating the provision of the scheme,” he claimed.

Sonam released mobilization fund in favour of Sunita Infotech based on the submission of an indemnity bond, which is in violation of the provision of the scheme, the ALSU said. As per the RPL guidelines, there is no provision for releasing fund before completion of work and also acceptance of indemnity bond instead of bank guarantee, it said.

Tamin also claimed there are six courses under the RPL programme in skill development such as mason, barb bending, carpenter-shuttering, scaffolding, plumbing and painting.

“However, according to their field payment, they had mentioned domestic electrician, beautician and JCB operators, which are not in the RPL programme. The firm itself is fake; that’s why it is indulging in such illegal act,” he said.

“If you are not wrong, come out clean with proper documents. Despite our complaint, he (Sonam) has repeated the same mistake by awarding work amounting to Rs 16 crore to the same firm (Sunita Infotech) this year,” the ALSU said.

“They could not show labour registration; they have availed benefits in the name of bogus and fake workers. If you are innocent, come out with proper documents to prove yourself clean. Don’t say it from mere mouth,” the ALSU said.

The union also demanded that the government should not reinstate Sonam in the board’s chairman’s post and should not give him “any responsibility in the government.”

The union also demanded an SIC probe into what it called “massive corrupt practice” in the board.

JWCAPTU defends Sonam

Meanwhile, expressing support to Sonam, the Joint Working Committee of Arunachal Pradesh Trade Union (JWCAPTU) termed “baseless and concocted” the allegations levelled against Sonam by the ALSU.

In a press release, the JWCAPTU on Monday said proposal for every scheme is passed by a board comprising members drawn from “a wide domain, including workers/labourers union and government departments, and thereafter it is accorded approval by the government.”

It said implementation of the projects is also monitored by several officers, “therefore, the question of committing fraud and corruption by the chairman is uncalled for.”

On the allegation that Sonam had misused Rs 6 crore for purchasing a permanent office for the APB&OCWWB, the JWCAPTU said that the board had spent a huge amount of money in paying rents between 2007 and 2017.

“It was the demand of our trade unions and the working class of the state to have a permanent office building as per the desire of the masses. Thereafter, it was accorded approval by the government. The formalities for purchasing the building were all done as per the rules. The chairman has no single-handed role in this matter,” it said.

The JWCAPTU also said that there are various workers’ groups and trade unions in every district which monitor the implementation of the welfare schemes of the board.

“When they are satisfied with the performance of the board, levelling such allegation without substantial evidence by a students’ group is highly questionable as the board is constituted for the welfare of the workers,” it said.

Stating that “such interference also affects and hampers the smooth functioning of the board,” it appealed to student unions to “refrain from such activities which are devoid of any good intentions for the welfare of the masses,” and added that Sonam has been rendering “exceptional services for the workers of the state.”