Bhubaneswar: The BJP in Odisha has slammed Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik over the letter which he wrote to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, urging the latter to open the 'Awaas' window again to include beneficiaries left out from the Centre's housing scheme.
State BJP General Secretary Prithviraj Harichandan, while addressing a press conference at Bhubaneswar on Tuesday, said that the demand of the CM is ‘laughable’. "Even though the eligible beneficiaries could not get their houses geo-tagged, the demand to provide more Awaas houses in non-Fani affected districts is laughable," said Harichandan.
"The window of Awaas software was open from July 6, 2017 to March 31, 2018. The State government got its first extension till June 30, 2018. In another extension, the window was opened till September 30, 2018 from June 30, 2018. The window was again extended till March 7, 2019 in two phases only because the Odisha government could not upload all the beneficiary details on time. However, after so many extensions, only 45,903 names were uploaded during this extended time which is surprising," Harichandan said.
"When Fani ravaged the State in May 2019, the Odisha government demanded 3.89 lakh Awaas houses for the beneficiaries in the cyclone hit districts. But after the Awaas window was opened in August 2019, the State government uploaded more than 13 lakh beneficiaries including those from non-Fani affected districts. However, not a single beneficiary out of the 8.17 lakh home allotments that the Centre had provided for non-Fani affected districts have been distributed till now," he alleged.
Harichandan wondered if at all the State wanted to provide Awaas homes to non-Fani hit districts, why did it not do it for aspirational districts like Sambalpur, Kalahandi and Nabarangpur.
Invoking the Central committee report on Awaas scheme irregularities in the State, Harichandan said, "As per the guidelines of Awaas Yoajana, the beneficiaries should be approved by a village level committee. Dispute redressal forums should be set up in villages to address the grievances relating to the beneficiaries."
He said the central committee had reported widespread irregularities in awarding homes under Awaas scheme. And despite the advise by the committee in April to initiate action against the responsible officials after conducting enquiry, the State government has remained tightlipped so far. “This smacks of their complicity in the scam," he alleged.
It is worthwhile to mention here that Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik on Monday urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to include about 6 lakh identified eligible households of Odisha under the Pradhan Mantri Awas Yojana (Gramin) for the districts not affected by cyclone Fani.
Meanwhile, Harichandan equated the State government officials with the proverbial ‘blue jackal’ and said the State should neither sly like a fox nor deceive the public like a chameleon.