BHUBANESWAR: The Congress and BJP on Saturday staged a walkout in the Assembly alleging widespread corruption in the Western Odisha Development Council (WODC) and demanded that the headquarters of the organisation should be shifted to Western Odisha as early as possible.
The issue cropped up during discussion on the admissibility of an adjournment motion notice with the Opposition members alleging that the council has become the rehabilitation centre of defeated BJD candidates in elections.
Questioning the sincerity of the State Government towards development in Western Odisha region, Leader of the Opposition Narasingh Mishra demanded immediate shifting of the council headquarters and enhancement of its budget to at least `1000 crore.
Mishra, who was the first chairman of the WODC, said though formation of the council was a good beginning, over the years, it has lost its efficacy because of negligible budget provision, inadequate staff and lack of an executing agency. He warned that if the State Government does not take steps to eradicate regional imbalance, it may lead towards the demand for a separate State by the people of the area.
Alleging that corruption is widespread in WODC, Naba Kishore Das (Cong) said projects are being approved without tender. Stating that there has been large-scale corruption in WODC, he demanded a high-level probe into the matter. He alleged that though MLAs should be made members of the council on rotation basis as per rules, opposition MLAs are not nominated.
Pradip Purohit, Radharani Panda (both BJP) and Subal Sahu (Cong) also alleged widespread corruption in WODC and demanded immediate shifting of the headquarters. However, several BJD members including Padmanabha Behera, Dibyashankar Mishra, Sanjib Kumar Sahu and Raseswari Panigrahi alleged that the attack on WODC is politically motivated.
Making a statement in response, Minister for Planning and Coordination Usha Devi said the State Government has repeatedly sought the views of the council on shifting of headquarters. An appropriate decision will be taken only after the views of the council are received, she said.
Stating that WODC was formed to accelerate development in Western Odisha, the Minister said so far 28,782 projects amounting to `1250.89 crore have been sanctioned since its inception.
MLAs express concern over NFSA irregularities
Bhubaneswar: Members cutting across party lines on Saturday expressed their grave concern in the Assembly over the largescale irregularities in the distribution of ration cards under the National Food Security Act (NFSA). The issue cropped up in question hour while Minister of State for Food Supplies and Consumer Welfare Sanjay Dasburma was replying to question in this regard. Padmanabha Behera (BJD) wanted to know about the steps taken so far to distribute ration cards to the poor people who are the genuine beneficiaries under the NFSA.
Alleging that persons not eligible have got ration cards, Behera said many genuine beneficiaries are yet to covered under the scheme. Opposition Chief Whip Tara Prasad Bahinipati said the Government should also provide wheat to the beneficiaries in urban areas and rice in rural areas, failing which there resentment will mount against the Government. The Minister, however, said as per the the provisions under NFSA, the Government has initiated several steps to identify genuine beneficiaries. "I request the people to bring to the notice of my department about the genuine beneficiaries whose name has not been included in the list," he said.