Mr. O. Abdul Hameed, Former A. C, writes on the misuse of ESIC funds!

I have a much worst example from my days in Calcutta, now Kolkotta. As the central director, I suddenly got a summon from labour secretary requiring me to meet labour minister same day. The Labour minister was an old communist veteran while State ESIC had an exclusive minister, a very friendly woman (Bengal was the only state I saw this arrangement of an exclusive minister for ESIC). I was asked to come up with a cheque of few crore of Rupees same day to pay some enhanced compensation for some land. As I had no idea of any such case and had, in any case, no power to give such cheque, I told the minister in front of Labour Secretary and the ESI minister that I would need a day to examine and come up with a response. The old communist was furious and asked whether I knew to whom I was speaking. The Labour secretary (a thorough gentleman from TN) restrained me from reacting knowing my “wayward” ways earlier.

On examination, I found that the ESIC was not required to pay a single penny. Few decades back( that must have been 1960s), the state ESI(Medical) Dy Director had sent a requisition for land for hospital in a suburb of Calcutta( place called Gauria or something like that) and the land was acquired and some compensation ( not clear from which fund) paid. As usual the owner went for enhancement of compensation through several layers and ultimately the High court had enhanced the compensation. The SLP to SC wad promptly rejected. All these events were some years before my aforesaid meeting with the minister.

ESIC was not a party to that case and another land across this land was acquired later without any knowledge of this issue. The layout and plan for hospital in this new land was approved with the knowledge of the state and during these developments, the State Government never informed us of the litigation. What is more, there was a statutory notification of state annulling all the acquisition notifications before a specified cut-off period where the final notification had not yet been issued or possession taken. The statutory notification aforesaid had automatically annulled all steps taken till then for acquisition and directed restoring land to original owners. This particular case under that category and all that was required was to file this notification while the case was pending.

I was able to get all these materials by late night and next day early morning I visited the land and found several encroachments there, houses, tea shops, grocery shops, kali temple and so on, many with communist flag and some with congress flag. I got them photographed. My note with these photos was ready by 5pm, as promised, may be, in 25 hours instead if 24. I went to meet the Minister with secretary by 5.30 but before that I had these faxed to DG ESIC with a detailed covering letter.

The Minister was furious and promptly asked Secretary to have me removed as I was working against the State. The Secretary quietly said there are already letters from communist leaders and MP to transfer me. In the corridor, the Secretary was gracious enough to tell me that I was absolutely right and, if he had been in my position, he would have done same but in a round about manner buying time. Only then I was informed that there was a contempt of court matter against the State and the High court had ordered attachment of Medical director’s office building.

Next day I spoke with our DG and other officers and I was given in writing upholding my view fully and asking me not to pay any amount and not to take the land.

After a fortnight, I got an order to give a cheque of few crores and take it to minister. I asked my Finance Officer to take the cheque. Mr Sharma DG was decent enough to ring me up and inform me that there was very high level pressure that he could not withstand and that I should not write anything further on this.

I had faced a few more such incidents. Everyone misused the ESIC and its funds, though the worst case was the manner the medical colleges were sanctioned and crores of public funds casually sanctioned and released violating every known rule of proprietary. Unfortunately these are not known to public or press as hardly anyone know what ESIC is all about.

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