Nitesh Kumar Sahoo

Bhubaneswar: Even as the Odisha government had announced to pay Rs 2,000 incentive to those completing institutional quarantine after their return from other States and outside, large-scale irregularities in the disbursement of the financial assistance have been reported from several places.

In some places, migrants who completed institutional quarantine have not received the incentive even after 2 months while in some other cases, close associates of political leaders have been seen demanding bribe from the migrants to release the money. In case of default, the migrants were denied the money citing that they were ineligible for the incentive.

Take for example, the incident of alleged misappropriation in Covid compensation money at Sasu Bhuasuni Panchayat of Bhadrak district. Sources said that the husband of the local sarpanch and the PEO of the GP reportedly claimed Rs 100-200 from each migrant showing the charges of paperwork.

Migrants who completed the quarantine in the GP alleged that the sarpanch and the PEO they handed over Rs 1800 but after altercations they gave Rs 1900 despite the fact that the government has made it clear to ensure compensation of Rs 2000 on successful completion of quarantine.

In another incident from Gosalapada from Balasore town, one migrant named Chandan Murmu stayed at institutional quarantine for 14 days after returning from Tamil Nadu on May 22 and as per the orders, he was discharged on June 21. However, till date he has not received the amount as announced by the government.

Similar cases have also been reported from Umarkote of Nabarangpur district where as many as 29 migrants are still deprived of the benefits.

Some migrants stated that the officials had informed them to deposit bank account details and the amount would be transferred to their respective accounts. But, even after 2 months, none have received it.

A few days back, migrants at Burujhuri panchayat in Ganjam district also expressed discontent alleging such irregularities.

Meanwhile, the Opposition political parties have cornered the State government over reports of such irregularities in the Covid incentive.

Congress MLA Sura Routray stated, "The government though had promised to provide financial assistance, massive irregularities have been reported from several places. Government is showing forged bills and we will demand CBI inquiry into this."

Similarly, BJP's Pradipta Kumar Naik said, "The government has failed to provide financial assistance to the returned migrants. Why some people have received the assistance and why some are left?"

However, State Transport Minister Padmanabha Behera clarified that such irregularities are unusual and assured that the government will take necessary actions to deal with them.

"We are taking immediate actions when we receive any report about irregularities in package distribution. Every migrant will receive financial assistance as announced by the government."

As per government reports, the migrants who have completed the institutional quarantine as per the government norms have received a total of over 103 crores from Chief Minister's Relief Fund.

(Edited By Suryakant Jena)

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