Ex ABOCWWB Chairman evading arrest since 2 weeks
• Gautam Baruwa is evading arrest since the last 2 weeks
• Sources close to him revealed that Baruwa is admitted in a New Delhi hospital
• Baruwa is a prominent city-based architect
• He was awarded government contracts like designing of Bodoland Secretariat and Bhupen Hazarika Samadhi Kshetra through his high profile links, sources said
• As chairman of ABOCWWB, Baruwa with Labour Commissioner Chohan Doley, some board officials and a private company siphoned off crores of rupees from the board
• They used various means including creation of forged DIPR bills showing that huge amount of money was spent on advertisements
Gautam Baruwa, the former chairman of Assam Building and Other Construction Workers’ Welfare Board (ABOCWWB), is evading arrest by the Special Vigilance Cell (SVC) of the Chief Minister of Assam. He is wanted for his alleged involvement in the Rs 121 crore ABOCWWB scam.
A source in the SVC expressed the hope that Baruwa would be in the net within a week. Sources close to him claimed that he has been admitted in a hospital in New Delhi.
Baruwa was serving as the chairman of the board from 11th March 2011 to 22nd May 2017 and during his tenure as the chairman he had allegedly siphoned off a large amount of public money with the help of private contractors.
He is a prominent architect of Guwahati and with his high profile connections he managed to get government work like designing the Bodoland Secretariat Complex and Bhupen Hazarika Samadhi Kshetra, sources said.
A source claimed that the Association of Architects, Assam had offered to design the Samadhi Kshetra free of cost and yet it was given to a private party because of Baruwa’s high level contacts in the government.
Baruwa was chairman of ABOCWWB and remains a member of India Club. He was also a former president of Gauhati Club.
Various means used to siphon off huge public money in the ABOCWWB scam
Some officials of the Assam Building and Other Construction Workers Welfare Board (ABOCWWB) and one private contractor looted crores of government money through devious schemes.
According to an enquiry report of the Special Vigilance Cell (SVC) of the Chief Minister, an allegation was received from the present Labour Commissioner, Tapan Chandra Sharma, that between 2013 to 2016 huge anomalies of funds were suspected in ABOCWWB.
The SVC then conducted an enquiry and the report of the enquiry revealed that then Labour Commissioner, Chohan Doley, the then Chairman, Gautam Baruwa, a staff of the board, NN Choudhury and a private contractor Priyanshu Bairagi (owner of Purbashree Printing House) had formed a nexus to loot crores of public money using various methods.
The enquiry revealed that the state government is empowered to levy 1% cess on the cost of construction of buildings which is meant to be spent on the welfare of the construction workers.
A source in the labour department said that there are 16 welfare schemes for the labourers but most of the labourers are unaware of their rights. “There was nothing in the name of development for the workers. Their ignorance was taken advantage of and the fund was diverted and misutilized,” he said.
Priyanshu Bairagi of Purbashree Printing House was allocated three work orders without fulfilment of any criterion of a work tender.
Two work orders were for printing and supply of leaflets, booklets and folders; one work order was for printing and supply of various forms and register at exorbitant rates without following the rules and procedures causing huge wrongful loss to the government of Assam and corresponding illegal gains for themselves.
Funds were also siphoned off in the name of publicity in various newspapers, forging of Directorate of Information and Public Relations (DIPR) receipts because government advertisements can only be routed through DIPR. Vehicles purchased for personal use were passed off as official in some cases.
The entire scam, according to the audit, values at approximately Rs 121 crores and SVC sources said further investigation will reveal if there are any more irregularities.