Bolangir: Ever imagined what would be the cost of 5 to 10 bamboos, hardly Rs 1500-2000, right? But you will be surprised to discover that the administrative department in Bolangir has spent lakhs of rupees erecting bamboo barricades in various containment zones in the town during Covid-19 restrictions.
A government document which is in possession of OTV revealed the large scale corruption in the barricading works during the pandemic-induced lockdown in the western Odisha town.
According to reports, some tainted officers had misappropriated government funds to the tune of Rs 4.33 lakh for the barricades in different wards in the town.
A document mentioning the cost of expenditure towards construction of barricades in different wards in the town revealed that Rs 2,42,416 had been coughed up for barricading in Hatisalpada slum which was declared as a containment zone after detection of the Covid-19 virus in a group of residents. Locals said that the barricades had required only five to 10 bamboos.
Similar is the case at Thikadarpada where only five to seven bamboos were reportedly used for barricading while bill of Rs 39,456 had been prepared.
The document further revealed that bamboos worth Rs 20,026 were allegedly been used in Rugudipada while Rs 23,603 had been spent for the purchase of barricading material for Beherapalli.
Likewise, the Road and Building division in the district had spent Rs 23,984 and Rs 11,700 for barricading in Sudapada and Radharanipada respectively in the town.
As per the data received from R&B division, a bill of total Rs 4, 33200 including Rs 46,000 as CGST and SGST had been prepared towards erection of barricades in different wards in the town.
The report has prompted locals to raise serious doubts over the appropriate utilisation of public funds for the containment zone.
"Only 50 to 60 bamboos were used for the barricading. But Rs 2.5 lakh is showed to have been spent for the same. We demand proper investigation into the misappropriation failing which we will stage protest," Govind Satpathy, a resident of Hatisalpada in the town said.
Satrughna Bag, another local said "When we were in a dire need of basic food items, the government officers from top to bottom had embezzled the public funds in the name of barricading. Not only in our ward, but also the funds were gobbled up in other areas in the town,"
When asked about the report, the R&B division superintending engineer has passed the buck to his predecessor.
"I was not here during Covid-19 restriction. I have joined here recently. The funds might be spent on some additional activities to prevent covid-19 infections. I can tell only after going through the documents," said Bibhudendra Meher, Superintending engineer, Works Department in Bolangir.
Meanwhile, the district Collector has promised strict action against the erring officials. "These were all temporary works. The Road and Building (R &B) division can clarify the estimate and expenditure details. Action will be initiated if any misappropriation of funds is proved," said Chanchal Rana, Bolangir Collector.
(Edited By Suryakant Jena)