Rajendra Prasad Mohapatra

At a time when the Centre and the Odisha government are at loggerheads over the free distribution of rice, a huge quantity of the food grain was found buried under soil and in a safety tank behind Gogua Gram Panchayat office under Bonai block in Sundargarh district on Wednesday.

The incident came to the fore when some villagers found some rice scattered in the area. Then they discovered huge amount of wasted rice full of insects buried in a safety tank and under the soil in the nearby area.

However, it is yet to be ascertained when the rice was buried at the place.

Tension erupted among the villagers following the incident. Some of the villagers put a question mark on the intention behind burying such a huge quantity of rice when poor people are not getting the foodgrains.

“I am a day labourer and I often struggle hard to get two square meals a day. I have not got any rice from the Gram Panchayat for the last one year. However, I found to my utter dismay and frustration that a huge amount of rice has been dumped,” complained Gouranga Patra, a villager.

However, the Sarpancha of Gogua Gram Panchayat feigned his ignorance over the incident.

“I had no knowledge that huge quantity of rice has been buried. I just came to know about the incident now. However, I have been informed earlier that some old stocks of rice have got damaged due to heat wave conditions,” said the Sarpanch.

“Not a single beneficiary has complained before me that he is not getting his quota of rice,” he added.

Some beneficiaries lamented that the rice could have been distributed among the poor people.

“I came to know about the unfortunate incident now. In hindsight, the rice could have been distributed to poor people before getting wasted and buried,” said another beneficiary.

Meanwhile, the Supply Officer said that the old stocks of wasted rice have been buried.

“Some sacks of old stocks of rice were wasted due to heat conditions as those were piled in one corner of a room. The wasted rice has been disposed of,” he said.