Mrunal Manmay Dash

As many as 42 Sarpanches and 56 Samiti Members have gone on a hunger strike and staged a sit-in at the Block office of Baliapal in the Balasore district demanding the transfer of the BDO.

Their strike which began on Monday entered day 6 on Saturday.

The Sarpanches accused BDO Binod Chandra Panda of misbehaving with them even after many complaints have been made to the district Collector. They further alleged that Panda does not follow any rules and has been doing all the work without informing the elected representatives.

The protesters had earlier burnt an effigy of Panda protesting his acts. They went on a hunger strike reportedly after no steps were taken against him.

“We want respect as per the Panchayati Raj law. The works at the Block should be done as per the law,” said the president of Sarpanch Sangh, Jagannath Biswal.

“It is really unfortunate that the demands of elected public representatives are being overlooked by the administration. I do not understand whether the government is for the people or for the employees. Everybody wants the BDO to be transferred, but the government has turned a deaf year to our demands,” said Samiti Member, Shantanu Mohapatra.

However, Panda denied all the allegations against him terming them as false.

“I had tried to speak with the Zilla Parishad Chairman and tried to resolve the matter. But he never listened to me and said they did not want to talk. These are all false allegations,” said Panda.

While Sarpanches are adamant in their demands, the Collector has expressed his helplessness in the matter.

“Only the State government can transfer an OAS officer. A collector cannot transfer him. However, their complaints can be sorted out at our level. We will send a senior officer to discuss with them and resolve their problem,” said Balasore Collector Dattatreya Bhausaheb Shinde.

Meanwhile, politics has also heated up over the hunger strike by the Sarpanches. Congress leader Panchanan Kanungo said, “Baliapal BDO is working like a government agent. He has been sidestepping the elected representatives. There is corruption in the Block office and the BDO is involved in all of them.”