Odisha: Jagatsinghpur Ombudsman sends notice to officials over vanished coconut plantation 

Sources said that the Soil Conservation wing had launched the plantation drive under MGNREGS in the panchayat in 2020.

Published: 06th July 2022 08:33 AM  |   Last Updated: 06th July 2022 08:33 AM   |  A+A-

Coconut Tree

For representational purposes (Photo | EPS)

Express News Service

JAGATSINGHPUR: A coconut tree plantation carried out in Balikuda block at an estimated Rs 43 lakh as part of MGNREGS, has drawn attention of Jagatsinghpur Ombudsman who on Tuesday served a show cause on officials of Soil Conservation directorate.

Basing on complaints, Ombudsman Ramesh Chandra Behera visited Adhanga panchayat under Balikuda block in the district but found no plantation in existence.

Addressing mediapersons, Behera said notice was served on assistant director, junior engineer and section officer of the Soil Conservation division after getting allegations from people during his visit to the panchayat on Monday.

Sources said that the Soil Conservation wing had launched the plantation drive under MGNREGS in the panchayat in 2020. Over 4,000 trees were reportedly planted along a 26-km stretch with a total estimate of Rs 43.14 lakh.

In May, one Bijanjit Mohanty from Danga village of same panchayat sought RTI information on the plantation. The query had revealed that nearly 4,100 coconut trees were planted during 2020-21 of which 80 per cent trees survived till March last year. Of the sanctioned amount, Rs 28.46 lakh had been spent towards this purpose. 

As soon as the RTI information spread, villagers cried foul and alleged that the whole scheme was a hoax as not a single coconut tree was planted. They also alleged that the amount of Rs 28.46 lakh was misappropriated by contractors in nexus with local officials by generating false bills without any actual work. 

Following the allegations, Mohanty reportedly submitted a memorandum in Collector Parul Patwari’s office last week to unearth the racket but no action has been initiated. This prompted the villagers to seek intervention of the Ombudsman as they claimed that job card holders were deprived of work and daily wages from the programme. 

"I had gone to Adhanga to inquire into plantation of coconut trees two years back but found no plantation in place. I have sought a reply from the authorities concerned within seven days. Action will be taken against erring officials if found guilty," said the Ombudsman. 

Contacted, assistant director of Soil Conservation Prasanna Kumar Patra said the coconut planted along the 26-km stretch were damaged and a report on this has been submitted to the administration. "We have not received funds for second phase towards maintenance because not many trees survived," he added.
 



Comments

Disclaimer : We respect your thoughts and views! But we need to be judicious while moderating your comments. All the comments will be moderated by the newindianexpress.com editorial. Abstain from posting comments that are obscene, defamatory or inflammatory, and do not indulge in personal attacks. Try to avoid outside hyperlinks inside the comment. Help us delete comments that do not follow these guidelines.

The views expressed in comments published on newindianexpress.com are those of the comment writers alone. They do not represent the views or opinions of newindianexpress.com or its staff, nor do they represent the views or opinions of The New Indian Express Group, or any entity of, or affiliated with, The New Indian Express Group. newindianexpress.com reserves the right to take any or all comments down at any time.

flipboard facebook twitter whatsapp