BERHAMPUR: Construction under MGNREGA in Ganjam district has come under scanner after work for a beautification and landscaping project supposed to be sited at Digapahandi block was found to be carried out in Chikiti instead.
Not just the 'misplaced' implementation, allegations of land classification disparities too have come to the fore. According to reports, Rs 50 lakh was reportedly shown to have been spent under the scheme in Bijaylaxminarayanpur panchayat under Digapahandi block for construction of model pond, a hilltop park and road at the foothills.
However, the RoR of the foothill shows the constructions carried out on a land under the Forest department in Chikiti block. While the land measuring 1.947 hectare (ha) as per khata no-264 and plot no-1128 has reportedly been recorded as hill and constructions carried out between 2000 and 2021.
As per norms, no construction should take place without changing the classification of land and forest clearance. But in this case, none of the two was done. Contacted, forest ranger Kanhu Charan Patnaik expressed ignorance and said: "No application was received nor submitted through his office for permission to change the classification of the land."
Usually the panchayat office submits a proposal for construction to the block office which sends it to district rural development authority (DRDA) for approval. After due verification, the DRDA approves the constructions and publishes the muster roll of persons to be engaged in the constructions.
However, none of the officials concerned took note of the fact that the land chosen for construction comes under a different tehsil. The then assistant engineer of Digapahandi block Gangadhar Lenka who has now been transferred to Chikiti block was supervising the projects.
He admitted that the construction was taken up in Chikiti tehsil. "But the muster roll was prepared after the approval of projects by DRDA," he said. Surprisingly the present AE of Digapahandi block Susant Patnaik maintained the constructions were made under government scheme so there is nothing wrong if the blocks get changed.
Former sarpanch of Chandapur panchayat in Chikiti block Manoj Kumar Sahu said a Hanuman temple was supposed to come up on the hilly land but when other constructions started, the AE was apprised but to no avail. Apart from depriving people in Digapahandi block to work under MGNREGA, the constructions reduced the area under Chikiti block.
Former BDO of Chikiti Phalguni Majhi too feigned ignorance over the construction. But Ganjam Collector Vijay Amruta Kulange said, "It's a matter of convergence. We will check if there are any discrepancies."