410 EPF defaulters arrested, says Centre

Updated: Mar 22 2005, 05:30am hrs
As many as 52,302 establishments covered under the EPF Act have defaulted in payment of employers contribution to provident fund and pension fund, with the cumulative default amounting to Rs 1862.8 crore.

Out of total arrears, Rs 1321.49 crore was not immediately realisable due to various constraints like stays granted by courts and liquidation of establishemts, labour minister K Chandrasekhar Rao told the Lok Sabha on Monday.

As many as 919 public sector undertakings were also in default of Rs 695.64 crore, he said.

The Employees Provident Fund Organisation undertook a special drive to recover the arrears, Mr Rao said.

While a total of Rs 5000.53 crore was recovered in the five-year period between 1999 and 2004, as much as Rs 520.6 crore was recovered from defaulting public sector units, he said.

During 2003-04, EPFO achieved convictions in 2396 cases, he said, adding as many as 410 defaulters were arrested during 2001-02 and 2003-04 and moveable and immoveable properties attached in 2,385 cases in the same period.

Show cause notice to hotel: Stringent action, including blacklisting, would be meted out to hotels which cannot protect the privacy of its guests, tourism minister Renuka Chowdhury said.

She was replying to a supplementary during question hour by Avinash Rai Khanna (BJP) as to whether the government has taken action against a hotel in Ludhiana in which a newly-married couple were allegedly filmed.

A show cause notice has been issued to that hotel ... No such activity will be tolerated. Stringent action will be taken against such activity ... Hotels will also be blacklisted, Ms Chowdhury said.

Replying to another question, she said with a view to making India a major tourism destination, the government has set up a high-powered committee to formulate a cruise shipping policy.

The committee has been set up by the shipping ministry in consultation with the tourism ministry to attract foreign and domestic cruise tourists, Ms Chowdhury said.

There has been an increase of about 23.5% in foreign tourist arrivals in the country, which has risen to 3.37 million in 2004 from 2.73 million the previous year.

She, however, replied in the negative when asked whether the government was considering any proposal to accord tourism the status of basic industry.

Distribution of surplus land: West Bengal tops the list of states in terms of distribution of surplus land and the number of beneficiaries followed by Maharashtra, Andhra Pradesh, Assam and Jammu & Kashmir.

While the total area declared surplus was 73.36 lakh acre as on March 31 last year, 54.03 lakh acre was distributed to 57.46 lakh individual beneficiaries, agriculture minister Sharad Pawar said.

Of this, West Bengal distributed about 11 lakh acre to 27.60 lakh beneficiaries, followed by Maharashtra with 6.14 lakh acre to 13.5 lakh beneficiaries, Andhra Pradesh with 58.22 lakh acre to 52.6 lakh beneficiaries and Assam with 5.46 lakh acre to 52.6 lakh beneficiaries.

Jammu & Kashmir distributed 45 lakh acre to 45 lakh beneficiaries, Mr Pawar said replying to a question by CPI member P Karunakaran on whether government was monitoring land reform measures in various states.

Left opposes Pension Fund Bill: Members of Left parties staged a walkout opposing the introduction of a Bill to provide for the establishment of an authority to promote old-age income security by regulating pension funds.

The Pension Fund Regulatory and Development Authority Bill, 2005, introduced by finance minister P Chidambaram, seeks to replace an ordinance promulgated on December 29, 2004.

It provides for establishing Pension Fund Regulatory and Development Authority which will undertake promotional, developmental and regulatory functions in respect of pension funds.

The Bill empowers the authority to regulate the New Pension Scheme (NPS), as amended from time to time by the central government.