With the recently-received RTI report suggesting how a huge amount of money could have been pocketed in the name of plantations at seven places under flyovers and Shikharchandi hill, political heat went up by several notches with the Congress and the BJP targeting the ruling BJD.
As per the information shared by the Odisha Forest Development Corporation (OFDC), 1,972 saplings were planted spending Rs 25.12 lakh. This means Rs 1,275 was spent on a single plant. The nursery that supplied the ornamental plants and bushes was paid Rs 7,85,000.
Similarly, Rs 30,85,000 was spent for planting 7,014 plants under the Vani Vihar flyover. A maximum of Rs 2.14 crore was spent on planting trees and flower plants at the foot of the Shikharchandi hill.
What has raised many eyebrows is that all the nurseries from where the plants were procured are from Andhra Pradesh.
Many are now questioning the actual cost of these plants?
“There was no need to bring flower and ornamental plants from outside. Because of this, the actual cost of a one-year-old plant has gone up from Rs 400 -Rs 500 to Rs 1000 -Rs 1200. This could have been reduced if local entrepreneurs were engaged,” said Ashok Sarada, a nursery owner.
The BJP and the Congress launched an attack on the ruling BJD dispensation alleging corruption.
“I have been urging Naveen Patnaik not to show too much favour to outsiders. The plantations seen in the entire city are done by Telugu and Tamil people. Don’t we have our own people to plant saplings in Odisha?” said Congress leader, Suresh Routray.
BJP leader Babu Singh said they are misappropriating money by taking up beautification drives. “This government has become a government of misappropriation of money. In its 23 years of reign, it has deceived and cheated the people of Bhubaneswar. The Bhubaneswar people will give them (BJD) a befitting reply in the 2024 general elections," he said.
Taking the side of her government, the Bhubaneswar Municipal Corporation (BMC) mayor Sulochana Das said, “Since the BJP doesn’t have any issue, it is making issues out of non-issues.”