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Odishatv Bureau

Jajpur: In the wake of the death of 18 children due to malnutrition in Nagada village in Jajpur district over the last three months, former BJD leader and six-time Sukinda MLA Prafulla Ghadai has blamed himself and the local representatives for the shocking incident.

“The political leaders starting from the ward member, the local MLA and ministers, including myself, are responsible for such an unfortunate incident. I would also blame the administration for its callousness towards these poor Juang tribals. Acute shortage of funds is another factor responsible for the underdevelopment of the village while the villagers are also partly responsible for their stubbornness in coming down to the foothill despite several requests by the administration till date,” Ghadai told OTV in an interview today.

Thanking OTV for bringing the pitiable plight of the tribals of Nagada village to the limelight, he said not only Nagada, there are 20-25 villages in that area which were surrounded by dense forests inhabited by wild animals like tigers and elephants. “Before I was elected as MLA, I had gone to these villages where there was no road connectivity, power and drinking water facilities. Barring Nagada, there has been substantial development in the remaining villages in this area,” he pointed out.

He said the absence of road connectivity to Nagada village is the main reason for its underdevelopment. “When I was the minister, I had given a proposal for construction of a 11-km road to Nagada from Integrated Action Plan (IAP) funds. The proposal was almost finalised after a meeting with the district collector. But the proposal could not be implemented as the Centre stopped the programme. Had the Centrally sponsored plan been in operation, we could have started the construction work,” he said.

The former minister also blamed the villagers for their unwillingness to come down from the hilltop to the foothill. “Not only me, former MLAs, ministers and the district administration have persuaded the villagers to come down to the foothill and settle there while assuring them that the government will provide them with free house and land for their livelihood. The sitting MLA had recently gone to the village and requested the tribals. Though some of them had agreed to come down to the foothill, they refused later,” he said.

But Ghadai said the state government has now decided to start the construction of roads to the village. The construction of the road would be made from the IAP interest amount of nearly Rs 2 crore.

Meanwhile, an eight-member BJP delegation led by the president Basant Panda met Governor SC Jamir on this issue at Raj Bhawan in Bhubaneswar today and submitted a memorandum to him seeking his early intervention in the matter.

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