Haunting Past – From AI Files – Airline paid Atul Chandra Rs 80 lakh in excess 'erroneously' as Sandhu shielded fraudster pilots | WeForNews | Latest News, Blogs Haunting Past – From AI Files – Airline paid Atul Chandra Rs 80 lakh in excess ‘erroneously’ as Sandhu shielded fraudster pilots – WeForNews | Latest News, Blogs
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Haunting Past – From AI Files – Airline paid Atul Chandra Rs 80 lakh in excess ‘erroneously’ as Sandhu shielded fraudster pilots

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New Delhi, July 12 : Fresh allegations have emerged against Captain Rajwinder Singh Sandhu, the newly appointed Director (Operations) of Air India, who was terminated for anti-management activities and has been shielding fraudster pilots.

According to a Twitter post, Capt Sandhu was terminated for anti-management activities. He is also accused of shielding Capt Atul Chandra since July 2019.

As per the post, Chandra has defrauded Air India of around Rs 2 crore in two years.

The post goes on to say that “if a thief, fraudster, crook returns returns D money it is admission of guilt but this Common sense was lost on Capt Sandhu. In fact based on d action Capt Atul Chandra shld hv been sacked without ny benefits. Capt Sandhu is defending d fraudster amounts to criminal conspiracy”.

Documents reviewed by IANS show that Air India acknowledged in December 2018 having paid excess amounts of Rs 80 lakh to Capt Chandra “erroneously”.

R.K. Goel, General Manager (Finance) Northern Region wrote a mail to Dilawar Singh Rawat, Dy Director Finance/Administration, Director General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) on December 7, 2016.

The mail says that Capt Chandra is presently on deputation from Air India to DGCA.

“However, since the papers pertaining to such deputation are not available with our personnel department, Capt Atul Chandra has been erroneously paid salary and allowances from Air India also for such deputation period till August 2018, resulting in excess payment of around Rs 80 lakh to him,” the mail said.

“It is required that copies of all the documents pertaining to his deputation to DGCA may please be provided to us. Moreover, you are also requested to help us in recovering the amount of such excess payment from Capt Atul Chandra,” Air India told DGCA.

In a similar case, Capt Sandhu is also accused of shielding another pilot, Capt Karan Mann in 2018 who was facing similar charges of withdrawing excess amounts from Air India running into crores of rupees over several months.

The Finance Department of Air India had red flagged payments running into crores of rupees and foreign exchange in thousands of dollars over several months made to a pilot, Karan Mann in 2018, who was facing complaints of receiving excess payments as he was allegedly not flying.

However, a draft enquiry report by a committee of the northern region of Air India in Delhi in August 2018 came to the conclusion that no excess payments had been made.

“Capt Mann held a valid licence and was medically fit. No enquiry for any technical/non technical reason was pending against him and no specific instructions for grounding issued by Director General of Civil Aviation (DGCA).

The Bureau of Civil Aviation and Safety (BCAS) did not issue an instructions/communications to Air India or Capt Mann for reason of delay in issue of his airport entry pass (AEP)

In view of the above, Capt Mann has been paid only the relevant salary and flying allowances for the period under consideration and not paid the layover allowances. No excess payment has been made him.

Committee constituted by Regional Director (Northern Region) to enquire into the charges against Capt Mann for excess payment of allowances, the draft report said.

The Committee members included Capt Rajeev Khurana of CMS, Capt Aditya Singh Dhillon, NR and R.K. Sikka-Finance.

The committee was examining a complaint against Capt Mann for excess payment of allowances.

During this time, these complaints had Air India northern region and headquarters in a tumult with several departments involved. The Northern Region also passed on the issue to Mumbai which it said had made the payments.

General Manager Operations NR in a mail said in October 2018: “It is reiterated that the decision as well as payment for Pay and Allowances was made by CMS Mumbai. Therefore, in the interest of expediting the enquiry and seeking further clarifications, details of payments made
to Capt Karan Mann may be directly sought from CMS Mumbai, which will clarify the draft report.”

The red flag was raised by R.K. Sikka, DGM Finance.

In a mail to Narayan Koli, Mumbai Allowances, Sikka, Dy GM (Finance) wrote on October 16, 2018: “In my opinion, the payment of flying allowances also should not be payable as the payment is based on number of hours flown by a pilot and in this case, Capt Karan Mann has not flown due to not having the valid licence to fly the aircraft.

“It is therefore requested that clarification may please be provided whether salary and flying allowances are payable to Capt Karan Mann considering he was not having the valid licence to fly the aircraft and his PIC was also not renewed and he has not done any ground work during this period as informed by GM (Operations) NR office.”

In a mail dated September 4, 2018, Sikka wrote about the draft report into the enquiry against Capt Karan Mann.

“Reference to the draft report dated August 31, in regard to enquiry of Capt Karan Mann. As you are kindly aware that in the last meeting which was held in your office, the undersigned had placed the copies of the payslips for the period April 2016 to June 2018 and copies of flying allowances paid to him during the period June 2016 to June 2018 amounting to Rs 47.45 lakhs and Rs 1.5 crore was paid towards salary and flying allowances.”

“It has also been informed by the GM (WR) that Capt Mann has collected $93,321 towards flying and layover allowance vide email dated August 21, 2018 for the period July 2016 to November 2018.

“As per the draft report, it has been informed that Capt Mann was endorsed on B 787 PIC on July 25, 2017 and his AEP was issued on April 19, 2017.

It is evident from the above that Capt Mann did not fly the day he was relieved from DGCA i.e. May 31, 2016 to April 19, 2017. Furthermore, it was also informed that Capt Mann did not perform any ground job during the period May 31, 2016 to April 19, 2017.

“Whereas, he has been paid salary and flying allowances and layover allowances for the above mentioned period.

It is therefore requested that a meeting be arranged with GM (Operations), NR/Fin, NR/Pers before finalizing the draft report.”

The mail was marked to GM Operations, GM Fin, GM CMS, GM Fin NR among others.

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Air India extends contentious LWP scheme’s deadline to September-end

Air India has extended the deadline for its controversial Leave Without Pay (LWP) scheme, which has been drawing strong protests from pilots and cabin crew.

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New Delhi: In a circular issued on Thurday, Air India said that the scheme was introduced on July 14 and it “has now been decide to extend the last date of applying under the scheme till September 30, 2020”.

The scheme was circulated on July 14 and the pilots have been protesting that it “confers disproportionate powers” on the Chairman and Managing Director to pass an order requiring an employee to go on a compulsory leave without pay for a period of six months or for two years, and extendable upto five years.

Airline employees, across the board from pilots to service engineers, are protesting pay cuts and the LWP scheme in Air India. The company is also on the block for privatisation.

Air India has justified the cut in allowances of existing employees by citing the precarious financial position due to Covid-19.

“By ‘rationalising’ the allowances only, pilots and cabin crew are hit worst as it forms 80 per cent of our gross pay. Doesn’t the difficult financial condition of the airline warrant a contribution from the management too, based on their actual cost to company or just flying crew alone?” the pilots said in the letter.

The Indian Commercial Pilots Association (ICPA) and the Indian Pilots Guild (IPG) have accused Air India of spreading “deliberate misinformation on social media” and questioned the “duplicitous” and “misleading” tweets by Air India.

“Air India has recently posted some duplicitous tweets that are misleading the general public,” the pilots’ associations said.

In a recent tweet, Air India said: “Recent decisions of Air India Board regarding rationalization of staff cost were reviewed in a meeting at @MoCA_goi this evening. The meeting reiterated that unlike other carriers which have laid off large number of their employees, no employee of Air India will be laid off.”

To this, the pilots responded: “A lay off means settlement of arrears, gratuity, PF and retrenchment compensation by law. Management is trying to dodge this by introducing Compulsory Leave without Pay for up to 5 years to send employees on exile.”

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India’s July wholesale inflation falls 0.58%, food prices soar

On Thursday, another set of data showed that a substantial rise in food prices lifted India’s July retail inflation to 6.93 per cent from 6.23 per cent in June.

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New Delhi, Aug 14 : Sequentially higher food prices accelerated India’s annual rate of inflation based on wholesale prices to (-) 0.58 per cent in July from (-) 1.81 per cent in June, official data showed on Friday.

However, on a year-on-year (YoY) basis, the Wholesale Price Index (WPI) data furnished by the Ministry of Commerce and Industry showed a decelerating trend during July 2020, as inflation had risen to 1.17 per cent during the corresponding period of the previous year.

“The annual rate of inflation, based on monthly WPI, stood at (-0.58 per cent)(Provisional) for the month of July, 2020 (over July, 2019) as compared to (1.17 per cent) in the corresponding period of the previous year,” the Ministry said in its review of ‘Index Numbers of Wholesale Price in India’ for July.

“The WPI for July, 2020 have been compiled at a response rate of 69 per cent , while the final figure for May, 2020 is based on the response rate of 86 per cent. These provisional figures of WPI will undergo revision as per the final revision policy of WPI.”

On a sequential basis, the expenses on primary articles, which constitute 22.62 per cent of the WPI’s total weightage, increased 0.63 per cent from (-) 1 .21 per cent in June 2020.

Furthermore, the prices of food items increased at a faster rate of 4.32 per cent from 3.05 per cent.

On Thursday, another set of data showed that a substantial rise in food prices lifted India’s July retail inflation to 6.93 per cent from 6.23 per cent in June.

On a year-on-year (YoY) basis, the CPI inflation more than doubled last month from 3.15 per cent recorded during July 2019.

Commenting on July’s wholesale inflation, Aditi Nayar, Principal Economist, ICRA said: “The considerable narrowing in the WPI disinflation in July 2020 relative to the previous month, was along expected lines, with a correction in the index levels for crude oil and mineral oils, further narrowing of the core disinflation and a rise in food inflation to a moderate level.”

“The surge in tomato prices and moderate rise in potato prices pushed up the vegetable inflation in July 2020, contributing to the uptick in the inflation for primary food articles to a four month high. While the inflation for pulses remained steady in double-digits, cereal inflation eased appreciably, to a mild 0.7 per cent in July 2020, offering a modicum of relief.a

According to Sunil Kumar Sinha, Principal Economist and Director – Public Finance, India Ratings & Research: “One of the key reasons for subdued wholesale inflation is the depressed prices of manufactured items. Manufactured items have 64.2 per cent weight in the wholesale price index. The average inflation witnessed in the manufactured items during the past twelve months is (-) 0.1 per cent due to the weak demand conditions in the economy.

“Although, the Covid-19 related countrywide lockdown was lifted in the month of June, partial or local or regional lockdown are still continuing thereby impacting the full demand and economic recovery. India Ratings and Research believes this in turn will keep the pricing power of the producers under check even going forward.”

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India’s consumer price inflation rises as food prices soar

As per the data, the CPI YoY inflation rate for vegetables and pulses jumped by 11.29 per cent and 15.92 per cent, respectively, in July.

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New Delhi, Aug 14 : A substantial rise in food prices lifted India’s July retail inflation to 6.93 per cent from 6.23 per cent in June, official data showed on Thursday.

On a year-on-year (YoY) basis, the CPI inflation more than doubled last month from 3.15 per cent recorded during July 2019.

The data furnished by the National Statistical Office (NSO) showed that India’s consumer food price index during the month under review rose to 9.62 per cent from 8.72 per cent reported for June 2020.

CFPI readings measure the changes in retail prices of food products.

“As the various pandemic-related restrictions were gradually lifted and non- essential activities started resuming operations, availability of price data has also improved,” the NSO said.

“The NSO collected prices from 1,054 (95 per cent) urban markets and 1,089 (92 per cent) villages during the month of July 2020,” it said.

The data showed that CPI Urban rose to 6.84 per cent in July from 6.12 per cent in June. The CPI rural increased to 7.04 per cent last month from 6.34 p er cent in June.

The data assumes significance as the Reserve Bank of India, in its recent monetary policy review, maintained the key lending rates on account of rising retail inflation.

The central bank’s target for retail inflation is set within a band of +/-2 per cent.

As per the data, the CPI YoY inflation rate for vegetables and pulses jumped by 11.29 per cent and 15.92 per cent, respectively, in July.

Furthermore, meat and fish prices rose 18.81 per cent and eggs became dearer by 8.79 per cent.

In addition, the fuel and light category under CPI rose by 2.80 per cent.

“Clearly, the larger concern is the impact of consistently high food inflation on core inflation through cost push factors; the relatively high figure for transport and communication is a reflection of high tax driven fuel prices and increase in telecom tariffs,” said Suman Chowdhury, Chief Analytical Officer, Acuite Ratings & Research.

“We believe that inflationary concerns may lead to a delay in further rate cuts and can raise the risks of stagflation. It is also expected to have an adverse impact on bond yields in the near term and may trigger the higher use of liquidity and yield management tools to optimise the cost of government’s borrowings.”

According to Devendra Kumar Pant, Chief Economist and Senior Director, Public Finance, India Ratings & Research: “Both industrial production and inflation trend suggests different monetary policy action.”

“Retail inflation breaching the MPC’s upper band of 6 per cent in seven out of last eight months makes task of the MPC difficult. India Ratings believes the MPC will watch inflation trajectory very carefully before taking a decision on further rate cuts.”

Brickwork ratings’ Chief Economic Advisor M. Govinda Rao said: “The spillovers of the hike in petrol prices are most likely to influence transportation costs adding to inflationary pressures going forward. We expect food inflation to soften in the coming months with easing supply constraints and better monsoon so far.”

“However, the core inflation at 5.5 per cent is a cause of concern, and it may remain at elevated levels as the demand picks up, but capacity utilisation does not increase commensurately.”

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