Vineet Pandey, Secretary, Department of Posts (Ministry of Communications) on Friday said that the existing system will be continuously strengthened to avert cases of corruption and fraud.
Pandey’s statement came in the backdrop of a string of fraud reported in various post offices across Odisha of late. Addressing a presser, Pandey, focused on the pro-active role played by the department in dealing with the fraud cases amounting to Rs 2.44 crore which surfaced recently in Odisha.
Vinaya Prakash Singh, Sr. DDG (Vigilance) and Chief Vigilance officer and other senior officials of Department of Posts attended the conference. Suvendu Swain, Chief Postmaster General, Odisha joined the conference from Odisha in virtual mode. It is pertinent to mention here that three fraud cases of Lachipeta, Malkangiri Colony and Bhejangiwada Post Offices of Koraput Division were brought to the notice of Minister of Communications, Information Technology and Railways, AshwaniVaishnaw by the members of public and the media during the minister’s Koraput visit on August 21, 2021.
Meanwhile, Suvendu Swain said that in two out of the total three fraud cases, government money worth Rs 2.3 crore had been misappropriated. A fraud amounting to Rs 35 lakh of investor’s money had been reported in In Bhejangiwada branch post office.
The investigation into the several frauds at Lachipeta and Malkangiri Colony Post Offices involving Postmaster Biswanath Podiami has been handed over to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) which has registered FIR against him.
Mana Pujari, the Branch Postmaster of Bhejangiwada has been arrested by the police and booked under Sections 408, 409, 420, 468, 471 and 473 of the Indian Penal Code (IPC). CBI and police authorities have been asked to complete their investigation at the earliest. Directions have been issued for attachment of the properties of the main accused and their family members, he said.
There are 7,500 post offices in Odisha which are managed by a colossal 23,000 staff. “In the last two years, we received information about 17 instances of fraud involving Rs 7.9 crore. We have already recovered Rs 6.5 crore either from the post masters by seizing their property. The recovery rate is around 95 % and it is an ongoing process,” said Swain.
As per PIB release, departmental investigation has already been completed in Lachipeta Post office case. Preliminary inquiry in other two cases has been completed while a detailed investigation is in progress. The probe is expected to be over in a month’s time. Major penalty proceedings are being initiated against the primary offenders. Strict action would be taken against those whose laxity had resulted in these frauds in Post Offices, the release added.
As per the release, all genuine claims of depositors would be settled within 30 days in accordance with the Standard Operating Procedure issued by the Department of Posts, New Delhi on 27th May, 2021.