CHENNAI: Preliminary enquiries reveal that principal procured furniture from a firm associated with local legislator.
Hours before her retirement, the principal of Government Polytechnic College for Women, Coimbatore, was placed under suspension for alleged ‘grave’ financial irregularities. Principal A Chellathai would not be able to receive retirement benefits until she is cleared. Following protests by students demanding better infrastructure, former Coimbatore (South) MLA ‘Challenger’ R Doraisamy sanctioned `15 lakh from the Constituency Development Scheme for procurement of new furniture. Sources said Chellathai had reportedly transferred this District Rural Development Agency fund into the college account and procured furniture without informing the Directorate of Technical Education.
“Principal has powers to spend only up to `1 lakh without informing DOTE. Above this, tenders should be floated with the consent of the higher authorities,” a top official from the higher education department told Express. Sources added that the procurement was made from a private firm associated with legislator Doraisamy. This issue was brought to the attention of DOTE authorities when an audit team inspected pending files pertaining to fund utilisation.
Admitting this, the higher education department official said there was no clarity on whether there was a conflict of interest. “But, preliminary enquiry by another senior government college principal suggested that no tenders were floated and no documents were produced by Chellathai when the audit team sought a reply. The issue was taken up for discussion on Monday last and the government issued the suspension order (copy available with Express) on May 31.
Higher education secretary Sunil Paliwal has also instructed that the principal should not leave the headquarters during the suspension period without prior permission. While Chellathai refused to admit that she was suspended, Doraisamy said, “I sanctioned DRDA funds based on request and haven’t met the principal or any contractor regarding this issue. I’m worried about principal not adhering to DRDA rules.”