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Mrunal Manmay Dash

Bhadrak: Two Panchayat officials, a Panchayat Extension Officer (PEO) and a Gram Panchayat Officer (GPO) were allegedly detained by angry villagers at Rajgharpokhari Panchayat over alleged partiality in the distribution of relief meant for cyclone Yaas affected people on Friday.

Tension erupted after the officials arrived at the Panchayat office to distribute the relief rice kept at the Panchayat godown since the cyclone hit the Odisha coast on May 26 this year rendering millions of people homeless.

As per reports, the total quantity of rice kept for distribution was meant for the cyclone victims in three wards of the Panchayat. However, matters flared up when the locals demanded that the relief be distributed among all villagers in the panchayat instead of victims in just three wards. The agitated villagers allegedly kept the officials hostage over the issue.

It was only after the distribution of relief work was called off, the ‘detained’ GP officials were freed, reports stated.

Arun Mohanty, a villager, alleged, "The rice stock could not be distributed earlier over the same dispute which arose again today. We have demanded to give out the relief rice among beneficiaries of all the wards under the Panchayat. But the officials clandestinely tried to hand it over to the beneficiaries of only three wards."

Speaking to OTV, GPO Ashok Kumar Dash said that the locals repeated the same demands of distributing the rice among all the wards in the Panchayat. “We have halted the programme for the time being until a consensus is reached."

It is pertinent to mention here that Cyclone Yaas had battered the Odisha coast in May this year. The Severe Cyclonic Storm had made landfall between Bhadrak and Balasore in Odisha on the morning hours of May 26, 2021.

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