Six staff members suspended and discreet probe ordered, says TNSTC official
A financial fraud, in the issuance of concession tickets to students and general public, has been unearthed in the Tamil Nadu State Transport Corporation (Madurai Division).
Following a letter submitted to TNSTC Managing Director, S. Mani, by a trade union organisation, an inquiry was conducted and six persons were placed under suspension since July 26, the MD told The Hindu, when contacted on Monday.
According to the trade union members, the Corporation had issued one-third concession tickets to students and 50 per cent concession tickets to general public in Periyar bus stand between January and June this year.
Following a leak about some financial irregularities, the trade union members tracked the modus operandi. They learnt that some staff members deployed in the issuance of concession tickets had, with the connivance of ‘outsiders’ who had knowledge in tampering with the programme, had altered the ticket fare appearing in the computer system and swindled the difference money, which they feared might run to several lakhs.
Normally, the tickets are issued to passengers based on the stage (the distance covered from one point to another). In the case of concession tickets, for instance, if the fare is Rs. nine, it is calculated as 9x40 singles, which works out to Rs. 360.
However, at the end of every day of issuance, at the time of preparing the statement of accounts, the staff allegedly changed the fare as Rs. 5x40=200 (instead of Rs. 9x40) thus siphoning off the difference sum of Rs 160 per person.
There are roughly 1.70 lakh students seeking concession tickets from the Madurai Division alone and 50 per cent concession tickets are issued daily to commuters, including students, which may vary from time to time.
When The Hindu spoke to reliable sources in TNSTC, Periyar bus stand, and the city branch, the officials said that the concession tickets to students were issued in two shifts – from 6 a.m. to 1 p.m. and 1 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Every day, the ‘handing over’ and ‘taking over’ of cash collected would be entered after physical check by the staff concerned. Subsequently, at the end of the day, it would be remitted in the respective branch and account head with the currency denominations, they added.
Under such circumstances, after the exposure by the trade union members, senior officials found that the fare prices had been tampered with.
A thorough probe into the fraud alone would bring out the truth and the officials should ensure a fool-proof system, where tampering would not happen, trade union leaders said.
The TNSTC Managing Director said that six employees, including a superintendent, had been placed under suspension. Steps to recover the money allegedly siphoned off were in process. A discreet probe had also been ordered, he added.