Published On: Wed, Jun 1st, 2016

FinMin seeks free access to PNR details for all depts to curb LTC fraud

New Delhi: The Finance Ministry sought all ministries and departments to have free access to the Indian Railways’ passenger reservation data to check widespread fraud in Leave Travel Concession (LTC) and Travel Allowance (TA) claims made by central government employees.

Railway Board Chairman A K Mittal

Finance Ministry wrote to Railway Board Chairman A K Mittal about the problem with fraud LTC and TA claims.

In a letter addressed to Railway Board chairman A K Mittal, a Joint Secretary in the Finance Ministry, Annie George Mathew, has written that submission of bogus or forged rail tickets with LTC/TA claims was a common problem faced by the government.

Mathew requested the Railways to consider giving access to Passenger Name Record or PNR-related information to ministries and departments free of cost “in the overall interest of transparency and corruption-free government”.

The development follows an audit report and subsequent letter from Additional Controller General of Defence Accounts (A-CGDA) A K Saxena, who found that 3,500 LTC and TA claims made by Indian Air Force (IAF) personnel, including 400 officers up to the rank of Air Commodore, were fake.

Saxena’s report estimates the total fraud over the past five years to be around Rs 350 crore. Individually, the amounts seem petty but the fraud could affect promotions of several high-ranking officers as the auditor has recommended strict action against them.

The letters and the audit report of the Dehra Dun-based Principal Controller of Defence Accounts (PCDA) have been reviewed by the media like The Economic Times.

Saxena had earlier written to the railways seeking access to passenger records, but the national transporter had demandedRs 750 per PNR for the information.

It would cost CGDA about Rs 12.5 crore per year just to verify the PNRs of the 1.5 lakh LTC and TA claims it audits annually.

Now the Finance Ministry has sought free access to the information for all ministries and departments.The PCDA audit had found that in many cases tickets presented for reimbursement were fake and hotel bills were inflated or bogus.

In some cases where IAF officers took flights, they forged the signatures of the under-secretary of the civil aviation ministry. The ministry’s approval is mandatory when officers fly airlines other than Air India.

Some people digitally altered the amounts on the tickets to show a higher fare than they actually paid. The auditors suspect there could be an organised racket, considering “the widespread forgery across all commands, involvement of large number of personnel from accounts branch, uniformity in methodology and use of information technology”.

Inputs with ET

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