Mrunal Manmay Dash

Developmental projects in Odisha’s southern-most district, Malkangiri are reportedly getting delayed as the Block Development Officer (BDO) of Sadar block and Sarpanches of a number of panchayats are locked in a feud.

The face-off turned hostile after BDO, Ajay Kumar Pradhan issued show-cause notices to the sarpanches of Gangala, Biralaxmanpur, Markapali, and Sindhrimal panchayats alleging wilful obstruction of government work meant for development in the block.

Pradhan, in the notice, has further mentioned that the Sarpanches are not cooperating in executing the welfare schemes of the Centre and State governments and forcing the contractors to prepare false bills for the work.

As a result, the money allocated for the schemes is not being spent, and the Amrit Sarovar project is getting delayed inordinately, the BDO mentioned in the notice.

“They (Sarpanches) are demanding to prepare bills for the works that have not been completed yet under the Amrit Sarovar project. They are demanding money first and work next. That is why the developmental works are getting delayed,” Pradhan said.

The sarpanches on the other hand brought counter allegations against the BDO.

Following the show-cause notice, the sarpanches lodged their complaints with the district Collector. They alleged that the BDO has done this to take revenge on them because they (Sarpanches) had earlier written to the Chief Minister and 5T Secretary seeking the transfer of BDO Pradhan from their block.

Biralaxmanpur Sarpanch, Nilakantha Jhola said, “We had met the Collector after the formation of 'Sarpanch Sangh' in May last year and demanded his (BDO) transfer. He is now taking revenge on us.”

Meanwhile, the Amrit Sarovar project has met a dead end in the block following the deadlock between the government official and public representatives. Demand for a resolution to the issue is growing shriller with each passing day.

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