EPF scam: Officials face the heat; Union Agriculture Secy in trouble (IANS Exclusive)
With the Economic Offences Wing (EOW) of the Uttar Pradesh Police turning the heat on the bureaucrats in the Rs 4,000 crore Employees' Provident Fund (EPF) scam, Union Agriculture Secretary Sanjay Agarwal, a senior IAS officer of UP cadre, seems to be in trouble.
As per the documents seized by the EOW, Sanjay Agarwal, the then Additional Chief Secretary of UP (Energy) and Chairman of UP Power Corporation Limited (UPPCL), was heading the Employees' Trust in which the gigantic scam surfaced last week.
What makes matters worse for the top Union government Secretary is the mounting pressure from thousands of state government employees and labour unions to initiate action against the bureaucrats responsible for investing their hard earned money in a controversial private firm, Dewan Housing and Finance Limited (DHFL).
The documents show that in March 2017, five top officials of the UPPCL, led by Sanjay Agarwal (as Chairman of the Trust), were present in an important Trust meeting which allegedly took the crucial decision of investing provident fund money in DHFL. Out of the five officials, three, including the then Managing Director of UPPCL, A.P. Mishra, have been arrested by the EOW.
The power employees' unions, which have threatened go on a state-wide strike, are now demanding swift action against the top officials of the power department who threw norms to the wind and opted for a company like DHFL to invest the provident fund of employees.
The Chairman of the All India Power Engineers Federation, Shailendra Dubey, told IANS that they have two major demands. First, to ensure that employees' provident fund is retrieved by the government, and secondly, top officials who were directly or indirectly responsible for the mess should be brought to book.
"Our two-hour state-wide daily strike continues. If adequate action is not taken, we will go on a 48-hour strike from November 7 onwards," Dubey said.
On the other hand, sources close to the Chief Minister's Office (CMO) in Lucknow said that the main conspirator of the scam was the then Managing Director of UPPCL, A.P. Mishra, who has been facing several enquires relating to corruption.
"Mishra colluded with the UPPCL Director, Finance, Sudhanshu Dwivedi, and P.K. Gupta, General Manager, to open the gates for private companies like DHFL. Gupta was the Secretary and Dwivedi was a member of the Trust. Both have been arrested," the source added.
Efforts were made to seek reaction from Sanjay Agarwal, but till the filing of this report, IANS could not get any word from Agarwal's office.
As per the FIR, the officials arrested by the EOW did not seek written permission from the top heads in the government before transferring funds to DHFL, whose promoters, Kapil Wadhawan and Dheeraj Wadhawan, were recently grilled by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) for their connection with firms linked to the D-Company run by Dawood Ibrahim.
Massive funds were transferred to DHFL by the UP Power Sector Employees Trust, beginning March 17, 2017, two days before Yogi Adityanath took oath as the Chief Minister of Uttar Pradesh.
Sources revealed that UP Police will now look into the case to ascertain on whose decision or instruction a private company with shady records was given the mandate to hold over EPF funds worth over Rs 4,000 crore.
Meanwhile, the UP government has decided that in future, the decision to invest money relating to EPF will be taken by the Union government body, the Employees Provident Fund Organisation (EPFO).IANS