Medavakkam panchayat clerk also suspended over allegations of corruption

The Kancheepuram district collector has barred the Medavakkam village panchayat president from making any financial decisions. This is in the aftermath of allegations of irregularities in the panchayat administration. A clerk was also suspended in the issue. 

Reuben Abraham, Clerk at Medavakkam Village Panchayat (also called panchayat assistant), has been placed under suspension while the president B.Ravi has been prevented from issuing or receiving any payment.

He also cannot sign any cheque, according to official sources. 

Enquiry

The action was taken following an enquiry into a complaint received by the Revenue Divisional Officer, Tambaram, about financial mismanagement in the panchayat’s administration. The complaint was forwarded to the Kancheepuram District Administration.

 A three-member committee comprising the Assistant Director, Audit, Assistant Director, Local Fund Audit and Personal Assistant to Collector (Land Acquisition) was formed. The committee went into the allegations of irregularities. It concluded that Mr. Ravi, who like any other village panchayat president, has the power to operate only a few accounts, had opened a new one as early as in 2004. 

This new account was in the name of the President, Medavakkam Village Panchayat, and on several occasions, contributions from the public were deposited in the account. Later, these sums were withdrawn. Mr. Abraham, whose duty it was to submit a record of every transaction made in the village panchayat to the St. Thomas Mount Panchayat Union (under whose jurisdiction the panchayat functions) had connived with Mr. Ravi and had kept his higher-ups in the dark and hence his suspension, the sources said.

Evasive officials

 

During the probe by the committee, the president and the clerk were evasive on why the public had made the contributions and also on why the money was deposited in a separate bank account. The committee stated that the incident was a serious breach of rules governing the administration of rural local bodies. It is also alleged that a sewage cleaning tanker was purchased in the name of the president and that when the probe began, it was hurriedly transferred to the name of the panchayat. 

Kancheepuram District Administration staff and residents, on conditions of anonymity, said they were keen on a further probe. 

Some of the residents alleged that they had to pay money to get plan sanction approvals or for getting new connections for water and power supply.   A detailed report from the committee is expected in a week’s time, the sources added.

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