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Odishatv Bureau

Bhubaneswar: The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) on Tuesday turned the heat on the ruling BJD alleging that the State government had embezzled the Indira Awas Yojana (IAY) funds meant for the Juang tribe in Nagada and nearby villages of Jajpur district, where 18 deaths of children due to malnutrition have been reported in the last three months.

A team of the saffron party, which visited the hilltop village yesterday where 18 families of the Juang tribe reside said the State government has failed misereably to provide basic facilities to the inhabitants of the region.

“We didn’t see a single pucca house provided by the Centre under IAY in Nagada. The scene in nearby hamlets is also no different. Forget about primary schools, there is not a single community health centre (CHC) in the area. How do the people live here? We want to know what the government has done with the IAY funds of the tribals?” asked BJP legislator Pradeep Purohit.

Addressing the media, he stated the development plans of the State government have gone horribly wrong as lack of drinking water facility in the area has made matters worse.

“Can someone survive without pure drinking water? Go to Nagada and you will see people are still alive and waiting for the government to dig a bore well for them,” said Purohit.

Unfortunately, acute poverty and lack of basic welfare services in the villages came to light only after loss of precious human lives, he rued.

On the other hand, the nine-member Congress team, which was forced to cancel its Nagada tour midway on Tuesday and returned from Ekulu, some three kilometres from the hilltop village, due to inaccessible roads, also blamed the district administration for not providing even rudimentary infrastructure in the area.

“The development of the area is restricted to pen and paper only. When we travelled in a tractor for about nine kilometers to reach Ekulu, think about the 419 population of the tribe including 127 children aged 0-5,” said Congress spokesperson Sulochana Das.

“After two back to back similar cases - first in Phulbani and now in Jajpur - we are not going to sit idle. We will begin a mass movement against the ruling party soon,” she noted.

However, in a belated move to salvage the situation, the State government on Monday announced formation of a task force for development of Nagada village. Development Commissioner R Balakrishnan told media persons that Revenue Divisional Commissioner (RDC), central division, will head the task force. “The RDC will submit weekly report on the developmental activities of the area,” he said.

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