Ramakanta Biswas

Jagatsinghpur: Large-scale corruption in toilet construction under Swachh Bharat Mission continued to surface in Odisha with the residents of Talapada panchayat in Jagatsinghpur raising their voices in this regard on Tuesday.

Locals alleged about Rs 70 lakh sanctioned for construction of toilets were misappropriated in Talapada panchayat. They said the government funds were embezzled by preparing false bills in the names of more than 500 beneficiaries in the panchayat.

Residents of the area including women today met Kujang block development officer (BDO) and submitted a memorandum demanding a high-level probe into the irregularities and action against those involved.

"Massive irregularities were done in the construction of toilets carried out by contractors and SHGs in Talapada panchayat. Doors were not fitted in some toilets whose construction works were completed two years back. In some cases, the total money sanctioned was withdrawn but the funds did not reach the bank accounts of the beneficiaries," alleged Krushna Patnaik, a resident of Talapada.

Kujang BDO Amiya Kumar Panda however assured that action will be taken if the beneficiaries make complaint against any specific persons.

"We urge people not to give the contract of the toilet construction to middlemen. They are misleading people after taking money from them and the administration is taking the blame," he said.

"The residents have not made specific allegations against any person. I would like to clarify that we have not authorised any employee to collect documents from the beneficiaries. We will take measures so that middlemen will not be able to defraud the beneficiaries." he added.

(Edited By Suryakant Jena)