New Delhi, Jan 3: Delhi Government has served a show cause notice on Swami Agnivesh for alleged fudging of bills and told him to refund an “unspent” amount of Rs 2.23 lakh out of total grant of Rs 18 lakh given to his NGO to carry out a survey on bonded labourers in the city.
The Revenue department has given 10 days' time to the activist as chairman of Bonded Labour Liberation Front to comply with the notice.
Officials said an amount of Rs 18 lakh was released to Delhi Government as grant-in-aid by Ministry of Labour and Employment in 2005 for conducting a survey on bonded labourers in the city.
Subsequently the city government had given the money to Bonded Labour Liberation Front run by Agnivesh to carry out the survey.
In 2007, the NGO submitted a utilisation certificate to the government detailing expenses amounting to Rs 15.76 lakh and informed it that the remaining amount of Rs 2.23 lakh has been kept in bank for utilisation in the next year.
“But no utilisation certificate in respect of balance amount of Rs 2.23 lakh has been furnished by the NGO till date,” the officials said.
Amid the controversy, Agnivesh today met Chief Minister Sheila Dikshit during which the matter figured. Officials in the Chief Minister's office said the meeting was pre-scheduled.
“He mentioned about the issue in the meeting,” Dikshit said when asked about the meeting.
In the notice, the government said the initial scrutiny of the bills submitted by the NGO reflects “many shortcomings” as some of them are issued in Madhya Pradesh and Rajasthan on account of travel expenses although the money was given for carrying out the survey in Delhi.
Agnivesh, however, termed the allegations as “motivated, baseless and mysterious”.
“I have met the Chief Minister. We have the expenditure duly audited for the whole Rs 18 lakh. There is no wrongdoing. I am ready for any kind of investigations,” Agnivesh said.
“I received the notice this afternoon only. I received a fax message. Curiously, even before the notice was sent to me, it found its way to media,” he said.
The government also took objection to the NGO selling the findings of the survey in the form of a booklet which has been priced at Rs 100 and claiming the copyright of the publication.
“Why the copyright of the survey report has been shown reserved in favour of the Bonded Labour Liberation Front when the financial assistance was extended by the Delhi government,” the notice said, adding “whether any approval from this department has been obtained for fixing the sale price of the report.”