Even as the tardy pace of JICA project in the Silver City of Cuttack is raising many questions, the Odisha Cabinet’s nod for infusing more funds into construction of box drains seems to have added fuel to the fire.
The JICA (Japan International Cooperation Agency)- funded Odisha Integrated Sanitation Improvement Project (OISIP) was started in 2013 to ease the perennial problems of flooding in the city. It is learnt that only 30 per cent work of the project has been completed so far.
Meanwhile, the State Cabinet earlier this month approved Rs 450.44 crore for construction of box drains and roads in Cuttack from Pattapola to Matrubhawan to prevent flooding and ease traffic congestion in the city. Soon State Housing and Urban Development Minister Pratap Jena took to Twitter to thank Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik for the funds.
However, the move made grounds for the Opposition to target the State government who believe crores of rupees are being embezzled under the grab of the project. The Congress questioned as to how the State government could sanction funds afresh for the box drains which were already part of the JICA-funded project.
Congress Barabati-Cuttack MLA Mohammed Moqim said, “Box drains were already included in the JICA project and the contract agency had finished 25 to 30 per cent works. The project is lying incomplete for the last eight years and people are facing inconvenience.”
BJP Cuttack City president Lalatendu Badu said, “Central as well State allocations are being siphoned off. Initially, it was assured that the project will complete in 4-5 years, but it is still lying incomplete even though eight years have passed.”
Started in 2013, the initial cost of the project was Rs 974 crore. Though half of the project is yet to be completed, the project cost has soared to Rs 3000 crore. Further, Rs 450 crore was expected to be spent by 2022 for box drains, but the delayed project has increased the plight of the residents instead of improving.