The state government has decided to audit recruitment to permanent posts in municipalities made before 2020, government officials said, the move prompted by allegations of irregularities in appointments.
In the first phase, recruitments in South Dum Dum, Kamarhati, Panihati, North Dum Dum and Baranagar municipalities, which adjoin Kolkata, will come under the audit, which will be conducted by officials in the urban development and municipal affairs department.
It will be followed by municipalities across the rest of south Bengal.
Recruitments in the municipalities in north Bengal will be audited in the last phase, the officials said.
“Since an allegation has surfaced about a company allegedly involved in irregularities in appointments in municipalities, we will run a cross-check,” Firhad Hakim, urban development and municipal affairs minister, said.
“I am unaware of any irregularities in recruitments. We will find out (whether there were any irregularities) after the inquiry. But I don’t think there’s anything to raise a hue and cry about.”
The decision to audit appointments follows statements by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) that Ayan Sil, a businessman arrested for his alleged involvement in irregularities in recruitments for state-aided schools, was also involved in tampering with OMR sheets of candidates who had written tests for recruitments in municipalities.
The agency has said Sil was involved in the appointment of around 5,000 candidates to permanent posts in 60-odd municipalities in West Bengal. The businessman owns ABS Infozon, which was entrusted with barcoding and evaluating OMR sheets usedin job tests, the agency has said.
Sil allegedly extorted between Rs 4 lakh and Rs 7 lakh from each candidate for appointment to posts such as driver, cleaner and typist in municipalities.
“We will find out whether there were more recruitments than the number of vacant posts and then examine the selection process and educational qualifications of some candidates,” said a state government official.
“There are several other ways to probe the recruitment of a candidate but that can’t be discussed.”
There are 123 municipalities and six municipal corporations across the state, apart from the Kolkata Municipal Corporation.
The collective sanctioned strength in these urban bodies is over 79,000 and the current staff strength is around 39,000.
Before the 2018-19 fiscal, agencies recommended by the directorate of local body handled recruitments in municipalities, officials in the municipal affairs department said.
Since the 2018-19 fiscal, the West Bengal Municipal Service Commission has been responsible for all recruitments in municipalities.
“The ED is focussing on alleged corruption when agencies were handling recruitments. So, the audit will cover appointments till 2019,” said an official in the municipal affairs department.
“Investigations have revealed that Sil’s company had in 2017 won contracts for recruitments in several municipalities in North 24-Parganas. The recruitment took place two years later. In 2016, the company had bagged the contract for recruiting staff in a municipality just north of Kolkata,” an ED officials said.
Officers of the central agency have alleged that Sil’s company would tamper with OMR sheets of deserving candidates by filling the space the examinees had left blank. That would result in the candidates scoring lower marks compared with the ones who had paid Sil.