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Pending Ama Gaon Ama Bikash projects spell poll trouble

Against this backdrop, many candidates are now in a tough spot as they feel that local resentment will reflect in the votes and impact their prospects. 

Published: 21st January 2022 03:37 AM  |   Last Updated: 21st January 2022 08:24 AM   |  A+A-

Foundation stone of a road project under the scheme in Borikina | Express

By Express News Service

JAGATSINGHPUR: As the panchayat elections draw closer, the ruling BJD might find itself in a catch-22 situation with irregularities and non-completion of projects under its flagship Ama Gaon Ama Bikash (AGAB) programme brewing as a major poll issue for people in Jagatsinghpur district.There are 198 panchayats in the district. But if sources are to be believed, at least one or two projects under AGAB are pending in almost every panchayat reportedly due to BJD’s intra-party conflict besides negligence of administration and apathy of panchayat officials. 

Khalgaon panchayat in Balikuda block has 13 wards with 3,315 voters. Both sarpanch and panchayat samiti seats are reserved for general category but there’s palpable loss of confidence among the candidates as they feel they will be held accountable for the pending projects under AGAB in their respective areas. 

Former sarpanch of Khalgaon Gobind Charan Sethi said,”Construction of the kitchen room of Shiv Temple at a cost of Rs  2 lakh was cancelled by block officials due to pressure by rival BJD leaders. Besides this, our panchayat still has Rs 1.15 crore received in 2019-2020 under State and Central Finance Commissions but none of it has been implemented due to intra-party squabbles in the BJD.”

Similarly, former sarpanch of Borikina Sadhu Charan Sahu informed that construction of the SHG building in the panchayat  at a cost of Rs  4 lakh has not yet started while that of the Durgadevi temple estimated at Rs 3 lakh is incomplete. The fate of other projects like kitchen room of Gangesweripur temple at cost of Rs 1 .5 lakh and renovation of the temple room at Khandualpur village at the cost of Rs 1 lakh, is similar. All this is bound to come up during the poll campaigns as residents are miffed, he said. 

In Tirtol’s Kanimul panchayat, former sarpanch Bedadyuti Prusty alleged that he had submitted various proposals as per direction of the BDO but the project list was changed by block officials and a fresh one prepared to suit party interests of the BJD in 2019. Incidentally, during this time, one data entry operator Surendra Kumar Sahoo was suspended by then Collector for preparation of fake lists under the AGAB programme. All this will reflect badly against BJD in the forthcoming elections, Prusty claimed. 

It may also be recalled that the Economic Offences Wing (EOW) of Odisha Police Crime Branch had arrested cashier of Balikuda block   Nihar Ranjan Das and office assistant of Union Bank of India Sanjay Samal for misappropriation of public money in 2021. Against this backdrop, many candidates are now in a tough spot as they feel that local resentment will reflect in the votes and impact their prospects. 

Contacted, a  senior officer of Balikuda, on condition of anonymity, alleged that the block received over Rs 2.61 lakh under AGAB scheme in 2018-2019 which was deposited in the Corporation Bank (now Union Bank of India), Arilo branch but the money was allegedly diverted to the personal account of the cashier. As a result, many projects have been hanging fire, he added.



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