HYDERABAD: Even as Mehul Choksi cools his heels in Antigua, 635 employees, including over 235 persons with disabilities (PwD), of Gitanjali Gems in the city have been rendered jobless since the financial fraud broke out.
It has been more than a year since the Gitanjali Gems Special Economic Zone (SEZ) on the city’s outskirts was shut down after Choksi’s name emerged in the multi-crore Punjab National Bank (PNB) fraud scam.
While Choksi fled India, his 635 employees in the city received neither their pending salaries for three months nor their Provident Fund (PF) money.
For these abandoned employees, especially the PwDs who are currently unemployed or doing petty business, this money can be of great use. After the company was closed, the SEZ authorities had promised alternate employment for the 635 employees. But that too has not materialised.
The employees were recruited as diamond cutters and polishers by three contractors, Sneha Synergy Solutions, Trident Private Ltd and PMR Private Ltd.
The employees allege that after the shutdown, the SEZ authority and contractors washed their hands off the situation without settling pending salaries or providing PF.
‘Pay us pending salaries’
When contacted, PMR Private Ltd Director T Prabhakar, said that “we have completed the formalities of PF documentation of workers and submitted to respective PF office. The amount will be credited into the personal accounts of the workers.”
“Without receiving payments from the company, we are unable to clear the pending salaries,” he added.
Rama Krishna, a PwD who lost his cutter’s job with Gitanjali Gems SEZ, said that he had worked in the company for six years, but is now unemployed for over a year.
“Till date, the contractor has not shared with us the documents of PF. We strongly believe that the contractor has usurped the money by fooling us. He has not been responding to our requests and claims that the data is lost,” said Krishna.
Mohammed Haneef Baba, another worker, alleged that “SEZ authorities have given assurance for alternate jobs, but they had failed to show alternate jobs.”
He said that “many disabled workers had to go back to their native villages.”