Pradeep Pattanayak

Ahead of the Panchayat elections, a tug of war over the allotment of houses under the Awas programme in the State has started between the ruling Biju Janata Dal (BJD) and Opposition Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP). 

With the rural body elections approaching fast, in their attempt to show their proximity to the people, the major political parties in the State seem to be pulling out all the stops. BJD parliamentarians met the Union Rural Development Minister Giriraj Singh at Krishi Bhawan in New Delhi. They demanded houses under Awas Yojana to 1,84,000 Fani cyclone affected people of the State who are not falling under the State’s housing scheme. 

Their other demand was to allocate 5,09,000 houses under Awas yojanas in KBK and tribal dominated districts.  
This apart, the MPs also demanded for the Awas Plus portal to be opened for one more month so that the list of beneficiaries can be uploaded. 

On the other hand, the BJP alleged that the PM Awas Yojana in the State is bugged with corruption to the tune of Rs 1,000 crore. The State government is giving away Awas houses to random people, neglecting the genuine beneficiaries. The government is doing so with a view to strengthen its vote bank. Similarly, so far, the deadline of Awas Plus portal has been extended for six times. Yet, the government failed in discharging its duty. Now it is shedding crocodile’s tear, the saffron party alleged. 

“As per the CAG report, compared to corruptions in other states, Odisha stands next to no one. The BJP (Odisha) should refrain from fanning a false propaganda. We had urged the Union Minister to not politicize things and distribute houses to all the needy people,” said Amar Patnaik, BJD MP. 

On the other hand, BJP MP from Bhubaneswar Aparajita Sarangi alleged that the beneficiaries in 14 districts have been deprived of getting houses. 99 percent houses have been given away in coastal areas. “In Khurda district, which I am representing, there are people who have been provided with houses under Awas Yojana despite the fact that they were not the genuine beneficiaries,” she said. 

The Congress too hit out at the BJD over the Awas Yojana distributions. “In PM Awas Yojana, massive corruption in grass root level is being reported. The beneficiaries have to give a bribe of Rs 20,000 for a house. The State government had ample opportunities to perform better but it failed. Now it is only trying to get political mileage out of it,” claimed Congress MP Saptagiri Ullaka. 

To get a clear picture of Awas Yojana in the State, Kukuradhima village in Mayurbhanj district and Paibeda village in Koraput district can be taken as examples. Not a single resident of Kukuradhima village has received a house under Awas Yojana. Even though they are living a pathetic life in their dilapidated shanties and huts, their names have never ever featured in beneficiary list. 

“I am daily wage labourer. My family lives in a thatched roofed house. I hoped to get a house under Awas Yojana. But that it is not coming in my way,” said Ramakanta Lenka, a resident of Kukuradhima village.

The fate of the residents in Paibeda village is not different either. A resident, Laichan Hantal, is now living in a hut after his house was damaged in the torrential rains.  “It has been two years since my house collapsed. Now we are cooking food and having our launch and dinner outside,” complained  Hantal.