Odisha Lokayukta serves notice to BJD MLA over allegation that he blew up a flood embankment
Earlier, the opposition BJP too had accused the BJD MLA of blowing off the river embankment in flood-affected Jajpur district with dynamite seeking stringent action against him. BJP state general secretary Lekhasri Samantsinghar had alleged that the 300-feet breach in the embankment of the Kelua River was deliberately created.Updated: Oct 22, 2020, 00:59 IST
An MLA of the Biju Janata Dal and 5 others including government officials have been issued a notice by the Odisha Lokayukta over allegations by an RTI activist that he conspired to damage an irrigation embankment during floods in August this year that led to submergence of thousands of acres of farmland.
The office of the Lokayukta served a notice to BJD MLA Pranab Balabantaray and five other officials of works and water resources department including a relative of the MLA for hearing in the matter in December after RTI activist Sarbeswar Beura lodged a complaint. The complaint alleged that on August 28 this year, the irrigation embankment road from NH-5 (Gokarneswar) to Budhalinga Majhipada Road for preventing the waters of Kelua River entering the farmlands, was damaged by dynamites that inundated 4000 hectares of standing paddy crop in 7 gram panchayats of Jajpur district.
“Balabantaray with the help of junior engineer Naren Jena and others engaged miscreants to damage this embankment through explosives for suppression of the irregularities and misappropriation of huge amount of money in the construction work. This embankment did not witness any strong current in flow of flood water to cause any damage to the embankment. There was a deep-laid conspiracy to destroy it,” the RTI activist alleged.
He further alleged that the embankment was sanctioned in 2016 by the office of the Executive Engineer (Roads and Buildings), Panikoili division at an estimated cost of Rs 21.99 crore.
“Junior engineer Naren Jena, uncle of the MLA, who was in charge of supervising and monitoring the construction of the said embankment road, had demanded huge gratification from the contractor which resulted in substandard work. When I filed the RTI application with the office of executive engineer (Roads and buildings) of Panikoili division in Jajpur seeking details of information about the work, the PIO did not provide any information. Apprehending that the corruption in the poor civil work of the embankment would be exposed, it was destroyed during the floods,” alleged Beura.
Neither BJD MLA Balabantaray nor the party commented on the allegations though HT sought their comments.
Earlier, the opposition BJP too had accused the BJD MLA of blowing off the river embankment in flood-affected Jajpur district with dynamite seeking stringent action against him. BJP state general secretary Lekhasri Samantsinghar had alleged that the 300-feet breach in the embankment of the Kelua River was deliberately created.
The water resources department has also lodged an FIR with the local police as its preliminary probe revealed that the breach was an artificial one. “An FIR has been lodged with the Dharmashala police station in connection with creation of the breach in Kelua river embankment using dynamite,” the engineer-in-chief of water resources department Jyotirmaya Rath said.
The floods in Odisha in August had left 17 people dead and over 10,000 houses damaged while affecting 1.4 million people in 20 districts.