Tractor-loads of cooked meal dumped in Odisha; Aahar scheme comes under scanner

Sambalpur: The picture of cooked meals of nearly 3,000 people being disposed off in dumping yards has stirred a major controversy. Such a picture from Sambalpur has triggered widespread public outcry and many alleged that lack of foresight on the part of administrative officials is the reason behind such lapses.

The visuals of cooked meals being carried on tractors to the dumping yard were captured by some lawyers in Sambalpur which soon triggered outrage.

“After suspecting that rice and other food items are being carried away to be dumped, we stopped the vehicle and later came to know that the cooked meals were from the Aahar centres,” said Bijetendria Pradha, an advocate.

Manna Trust is engaged by the government for its Aahar scheme under which cooked meals are provided at Rs 5 at five different places in Sambalpur. The authorities of the trust claimed that as the turnout was quite less at the Aahar centres during the two-day trade union strike and meals for nearly 3,000 people were wasted.

“Nearly, 3000 meals were wasted in the last two days. We usually get order from the government officers to prepare food. If we don’t get any orders from concerned officials, we cannot reduce the quantity,” said Sura Ranjan Mohapatra, administrator of Manna Trust.

Many believe that the concerned officials of the trust went ahead to prepare the food despite meals for 1,500 people were leftover on the first day of the bandh on January 8. However, the Manna Trust officials have passed the buck to the deputy commissioner of Sambalpur Municipal Corporation (SMC).

“The authorities destroyed the food instead of distributing among local people who could have easily taken it home,” said a local resident.

Sambalpur Collector Samarth Verma on the other hand expressed shock and has sought a report from senior officials of the municipal corporation.

“Under no circumstances, food should have been dumped. I have asked the deputy commissioner to inquire into all aspects and submit a report. We will take appropriate action if lapses are found in the incident,” said Verma.