Pradeep Singh

Bhubaneswar: After lashing out at the Odisha government for its alleged failure in providing adequate relief to the cyclone Fani victims, the ruling-BJD MLA Pradeep Maharathy has once again courted controversy by alleging irregularities in the Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana (PMGSY).

"Even after laying foundation stone for the construction of roads, no work is getting done. As they (contractors) are getting good bills (profits), they are not constructing concrete roads. I had laid foundation stones of seven roads in my Assembly constituency almost a year ago. However, no work has started yet," alleged Maharathy in Odisha Assembly today.

While the Congress members in the House alleged that around 80% funds meant for the construction of roads under PMGSY are misused, both the Opposition and ruling-BJD members expressed concerns over rampant violation of the standard norms by the contractors (engaged in road construction in the State).

Congress MLA Sura Routray said, "Funds are being released but 80 per cent of it is getting misutilised. While Congress was in power, the embezzlement was 40 per cent, but in Naveen government, no tender or bidding is done."

Moreover, some members in the House said that the centrally-sponsored PMGSY, which is implemented in partnership with state governments, needs transparency and accountability on part of the contractors. Though there is a norm that the contractors will have to take care of the renovation of roads, if required, for five years from the day of completion of the road for public use, the norm is grossly violated, alleged the legislators cutting across party lines.

Responding to the allegations, Rural Development Minister Susanta Singh said that his department will soon open a control room with a toll free number to register grievances related to low quality construction works. "We have noticed at some places that the contractors are not carrying out the work properly. Our department has released a phone number for now (9437034321) and will soon make it toll free. Investigation will be done within seven days based on the complaints and stern action will be taken within 60 days," said Singh.

On the other hand, Panchayati Raj Minister Pratap Jena also exposed the State government by stating that road connectivity still eludes 3,323 villages in Odisha. Kendrapara (647), Kalahandi (473) and Rayagada (435) top the list of districts with high number of unconnected habitations. "A total of 3,323 villages are yet to get road connectivity and over Rs 1900 crore (approx) is required to connect those villages," said Jena.