BJD lawmaker blew off river embankment that flooded villages, claims BJP
The opposition BJP in Odisha on Monday accused a BJD MLA of blowing off a river embankment in flood-affected Jajpur district with dynamite and sought stringent action against him.
BJP state general secretary Lekhasri Samantsinghar alleged that the 300-feet breach in one of the embankment of Kelua river, a distributary of Brahmani river in Jajpur district, was deliberately created by blowing it off using dynamite.
“BJD MLA Pranab Balabantaray and his maternal uncle Naren Jena alias Badal Jena, who is a junior engineer, are involved in the act. An amount of ₹24.42 crore was spent to revamp the 20-feet wide embankment last year so that it can withstand any kind of floods. The embankment was breached to embezzle the money,” alleged the BJP leader.
Neither BJD MLA Balbantray nor the party commented on the allegations even as HT sought their comments.
Engineer-in-chief of water resources department Jyotirmaya Rath also admitted that the breach in embankment of Kelua river was an artificial one. “An FIR has been lodged in connection with creation of the breach in Kelua river embankment using dynamite. District administration will take action,” said Rath. He added that so far 36 breaches have been created in river embankments, including 5 breaches in Mahanadi river system.
The floods in Odisha have left 17 people dead and over 10,000 houses damaged while affecting 1.4 million people in 20 districts. Chief minister Naveen Patnaik who made an aerial survey of the flood-affected areas on Monday, ordered distribution of 50 kg of rice and ₹500 to all families in the villages that have been severely affected/inundated/marooned due to the current flood. Besides, one polythene sheet will be given to each deserving household whose house has been damaged.
Demanding stringent action against the Balabantaray and Jena, the BJP leader said cases should be filed against them under the Explosives Act and National Disaster Management Act for putting public lives at risk. Meanwhile, police have launched an investigation into the matter after assistant engineer of Jaraka Irrigation department Kamadev Das filed an FIR in this regard. No arrests have been made so far.
Water resources department officials said as many rivers are flowing above the danger level it will take at least 12-15 hours to get drained into the sea. “Since full moon day is on September 2, draining of the water into the sea will get halted and it will take four more days for this water to get drained,” said an official.