Dual quarters row: LoP, minister offer to vacate one

Bhubaneswar: Two days after chief minister Naveen Patnaik revealed the names of the ministers and MLAs possessing more than one government quarters in violation of official guidelines, Leader of Opposition Narasingh Mishra and Tourism minister Ashok Panda wrote to Assembly secretary to take back one of the government houses occupied by them.

The Bolangir MLA asked the secretary last evening to take back one government quarters at Unit IV area while Panda informed the secretary of his decision to return the house, which was in the name of former MLA Raghunath Sahoo but was under his possession.

“A legislator can avail two quarters as per norms. I returned one as some MLAs have not got the government accommodation. I have also asked my party MLAs possessing double quarters to vacate one”, Mishra said.

Meanwhile, Congress chief whip Tara Prasad Bahinipati also promised to vacate one.

On Monday, CM Naveen Patnaik had informed the Assembly in a written reply that four ministers are among 16 legislators who are in possession of more than one government quarters.

The ministers occupying two quarters each are Ashok Panda, Bikram Keshari Arukh, Jogendra Behera and Pradeep Panigrahy. Others possessing more than one government property include leader of opposition Narasingha Mishra, deputy speaker Sananda Marndi, government chief whip Ananta Das.

Former ministers Surendranath Nayak, Sarojini Hembram, Anjali Behera and Pradipta Nayak and five other former MLAs continue to keep government houses in possession though they are no longer members of the Assembly.

Four former ministers and five former MLAs have occupied the government quarters unauthorisedly. The quarters were allotted to them when they were the public representatives, the CM had told the House.