Pradeep Singh

Bhubaneswar/Keonjhar/Baripada: With 2019 general elections around the corner, political parties are leaving no stone unturned to win people’s trust. A case in point is the on-going tussle in Odisha between the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) and the Biju Janata Dal (BJD) to reap political benefits over the road projects by claiming credit for the infrastructure development.

As per reports, both the Centre and the State are currently busy installing sign boards of Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana (PMGSY) and Mukhya Mantri Sadak Yojana (MMSY) across Odisha respectively.

On both sides of the road to Tamang village under Telkoi block in Keonjhar district, sign boards of both PMGSY and MMSY have been installed. While the duo claims that the project is funded by them, not even 20 per cent work of the 3.5 km road has been completed yet even though the construction work is slated to be completed by September 7, 2018.

It is noteworthy that officials have been directed to install MMSY sign boards near all the PMGSY sign boards. In a letter to all executive engineers (civil) and rural works organisation in January this year, the engineer-in-chief of Rural Works department had directed to fix MMSY sign boards at all the works sanctioned after 2015-16 under PMGSY- both for roads and bridges.

Similar is the case in Baripada of Mayurbhanj district, where the road connecting Jagannathpur-Balijoda is flooded with such sign boards.

"PMGSY sign boards were first installed and later MMSY boards were fixed. A competition of sign boards is going on here. We continue to suffer due to lack of road but no one is concerned about our woes," rued Pankaj Kumar Mohanty of Baripada.

Satyajeet Chakraborty, superintendent engineer of north east village development society however said, "As funds of both the Centre and the State are being used for the road projects, we have been instructed to fix MMSY sign boards near all PMGSY boards.

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Meanwhile, the December 2, 2017 notification of the State rural development department states that the primary objective of MMSY will be to provide road to all those villages not covered under PMGSY or any other scheme with a population of 100 and above.

The notification also has it mentioned that of the left out  7521 villages under the PMGSY scheme, road construction work at 3486 places would be taken up under MMSY at an expenditure of a whopping Rs 6000 crore.

However, the direction of the State government to fix MMSY sign boards near PMGSY's has led to mudslinging between the BJD and the BJP.

"Eyeing the ensuing election, Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik is trying to mislead people for votes; but people know who has done the works and Naveen Babu will fail in his such attempt," said Odisha BJP vice president Samir Mohanty.

Refuting the allegations, BJD spokesperson Sasmit Patra said the Centre-State contribution for the road projects is in 60-40 ratio and if the administrative cost is included, a cost sharing of 50 per cent between both the parties will come out.

"If both are shelling out same funds for the projects, how could those be said as Centre's projects?" questioned Patra terming the allegations as an attempt of the BJP to hijack the State government's projects.