Mrunal Manmay Dash

Not one, but 33 ghost beneficiaries allegedly received government allowances for nine straight years in Tentalapasi Panchayat under Keonjhar’s Harichandanpur block.

The startling allegations have been brought by the residents of the Panchayat who further claim that the Panchyat Extension Officers (PEOs) along with the Sarpanch conspired to embezzle the allowance money following the death of these beneficiaries.

“My mother-in-law used to receive old-age allowance. After her death, the authorities stopped it. However, I later came to know that the remittance of the money did not stop. It went to the pockets of some unscrupulous authorities,” alleged Parbati Mahanta a villager.

A social worker from the Panchayat, Musha Mahakud said, “These 33 people have died since 2011 but the allowance continued to be received till 2020. The PEO and Sarpanch are involved in this corruption and they should be held accountable.”

Sushma Rani Bilung, the Additional Collector of Keonjhar thanked OTV for bringing up the issue and said, “We will initiate an inquiry into the matter by the DSSO and will take action against the concerned officials if they are found guilty.”

However, the wheel of corruption does not stop here. Allegations of anomalies and corruption in various government welfare schemes continue to hog the headlines in Odisha.

Sample this. A contractor allegedly pocketed all the money meant for Awas Yojana beneficiaries in Uthanasahi village under Mayurbhanj’s Kaptipada block and disappeared before completing works on the houses.

Rabi Mankadia, a beneficiary said, “The government had provided us houses under the Awas scheme. The contractor withdrew money and left without completing those.”

Responding to the allegations, the BDO of Kaptipada, Satyanath Nayak said, “They should have constructed the homes by themselves. The contractors who took money from them have not been engaged by us. However, if a complaint is lodged, I will see what I can do.”