Councillors, chairperson at loggerheads over cancellation of tender
While the protesting councillors assert that the council’s approval is necessary for spending municipal funds, the directly elected chairperson and the EO contend that they hold greater authority,
ROURKELA: A contentious dispute has arisen within the 20-member Rajgangpur municipality, with a majority of councillors, including five from the BJD, at odds with BJD chairperson Madri Lugun and executive officer (EO) Govinda Dandasena over the cancellation of a tender worth Rs 1.49 crore. The disgruntled councillors have termed the cancellation as illegal.
Just a week prior, another tender worth Rs 4.9 crore was cancelled on August 25 due to a lack of council approval. During a recent council meeting on Saturday, five BJD councillors, led by Kaushal Singh, along with four councillors from Congress, three from BJP, and one independent, demanded the cancellation of the tender, citing the municipal council has not approved it. However, the chairperson adamantly refused to oblige and abruptly left the meeting.
While the protesting councillors assert that the council’s approval is necessary for spending municipal funds, the directly elected chairperson and the EO contend that they hold greater authority, backed by the in-principle approval of the government.
Leading the protest, Singh revealed that in March, 5T secretary VK Pandian received multiple grievances concerning the development needs of Rajgangpur town, which were subsequently forwarded to the EO. Then a tender worth Rs 4.9 crore, covering 58 projects, was floated by the municipality without the council’s approval. Following protests and the intervention of the Sundargarh collector, project director (PD) of District Urban Development (DUDA) Lalit Soren visited Rajgangpur on August 23 after which the tender was cancelled on August 25. However, another tender worth Rs 1.49 crore for two road projects in Ward-10, benefiting only a small population, was not cancelled reportedly due to the chairperson’s stubbornness, Singh alleged.
He also alleged that the chairperson and the EO may be colluding to manipulate the tender processes. “We are willing to allow the road projects to proceed only if due procedures are followed. We have decided to meet with the collector on Monday before considering further action,” he stated. Congress councillor Gandhari Minz of Ward 10, for which the tender was floated, emphasised that their protest is about ensuring adherence to established guidelines.
Municipality EO Govinda Dandasena however, claimed that the necessary council approval for the Rs 1.49 crore tender was obtained on June 26. However, he alleged that some municipality employees had manipulated the proceedings. The EO asserted that the tender would not be cancelled and insisted that, following council approval, the works can always proceed, as the government has provided in-principle approval for them.