Mrunal Manmay Dash

Sarpanchs of 11 gram panchayats under Sundargarh’s Koida block have come forward to protest against the ‘Ama Odisha Nabin Odisha’ programme scheduled to be held on Wednesday.

Not only the Sarpanchs, but 11 Samiti Members have also joined the protest in the block.

The Sarpanchs alleged the government has reduced their powers by excluding them from the decision-making in their panchayats under the Nabin Odisha project.

“We thought we had powers and will use them to develop our respective panchayats. But we were not given any work under the Ama Odisha Nabin Odisha project which was launched only for the development of panchayats. We will not attend the government programme on Wednesday,” said a lady Sarpanch in Koida.

“Just like the Chief Minister has given all the powers to VK Pandian, the government has also taken away all our powers and given them to the BDO. That is why the villages are lying under neglect,” alleged another Sarpanch.

Odisha had launched ‘Ama Odisha Nabin Odisha’ scheme with an allocation of Rs 4000 crore. The scheme will cover all gram panchayats in each block of the State with an entitlement of Rs 50 lakh each.

The scheme envisages the creation of additional facilities for Mission Shakti groups at GP level, improving rural areas by way of providing urban facilities, development of sports facilities for the youth, providing banking facilities, improvement of digital access in terms of mobile connectivity, optical fibre connectivity, WiFi and internet connectivity.

However, since its launch the project has been marred in controversy as the Opposition is alleging the exclusion of public representatives from the project. The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and Congress alleged that the projects in each GP to be undertaken in the scheme have been identified by either the local BJD goons or the BDO and Collector, but not by Sarpanchs who know their Panchayat more than the BDO or Collector.