Police have registered a case against some employees of a cash collection agency for allegedly siphoning off Rs 5.24 crore generated from the sale of tickets of the Statue of Unity in Gujarat's Narmada district, a police official said on Wednesday.
The imposing monument of Sardar Vallabhbhai Patel, also called the Statue of Unity, is a major tourist attraction in the state since it was inaugurated in October 2018.
The money collected over one-and-a-half years by the Statue of Unity management at Kevadia in Narmada district was handed over to the the cash collection agency, hired by a private bank in Vadodara, the official said.
Some staffers of the agency allegedly did not deposit Rs 5,24,77,375 into the bank accounts of the Statue of Unity authorities, Deputy Superintendent of Police Vani Dudhat said.
The private bank's manager lodged a first information report at Kevadia police station on Monday night against unidentified persons working with the cash collection agency, she said.
A case was registered under Indian Penal Code Sections 420 (cheating), 406 (criminal breach of trust) and 120-B (criminal conspiracy), she said, adding that no one has been arrested so far.
Meanwhile, the Statue of Unity's authorities on Wednesday said the bank has deposited Rs 5.24 crore into their accounts.
"The Statue of Unity management is not involved in this issue. It is between the bank and its cash collection agency. The bank has already deposited the amount into our accounts," a senior official of the management said.
As per the FIR, the bank has been taking services of the agency since 2003 for cash collection and deposition.
The bank had appointed the same agency to collect cash generated from the sale of tickets at the Statue of Unity and other connected tourist attractions and deposit it into the two bank accounts of the State of Unity authorities, the police official said.
"In a recent audit, the State of Unity officials found a mismatch in the amount mentioned in cash deposit slips, given by the agency staff after collecting the cash, and the actual cash deposited into the bank accounts between November 2018 and March 2020," she said.
A detailed probe revealed that the agency staff allegedly did not deposit Rs 5.24 crore, following which the bank authorities lodged the FIR, she said.
"We need to check several records of the agency to find out who were involved in the cash collection exercise at Kevadia," the official said, adding that no one has been identified or arrested yet.