**Bhubaneswar: ** Union Minister of State for Rural Development, Ram Kripal Yadav, on Saturday once again targeted the ruling Biju Janata Dal (BJD) and Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik on corruption issue and gross misutilisation of Central funds in Odisha.
Talking to media here after campaigning for the BJP candidates for the upcoming Panchayat polls, he lambasted, “The Centre has been allocating enough funds to the Odisha Government for rural development, but there is no proper utilisation in implementing the developmental programmes as the bureaucrats and the ruling party leaders are busy in misappropriating a major chunk.”
“Corruption in Odisha has reached its zenith. The information I have received is that the ruling party leaders and bureaucrats are claiming 20-25% of the financial allocations from the contractors in the implementation of Pradhan Mantri Gram Sadak Yojana (PMGSY). Not only this, the beneficiaries of Awas Yojana are also being asked to cough up Rs 10,000 for each house. Similar is case with the beneficiaries in the construction of toilets in rural areas,” the Union RD Minister flayed.
Also taking a swipe at the BJD-ruled Odisha Government, he further commented, “The Centre has made specific arrangements for providing rice and wheat to the rural populace at an affordable price. But, the State Government has been hijacking it and tom-toming that the distribution of subsidised rice and wheat is its own programme. We’ll expose the modus operandi.”
Taking a dig at Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik, the Union Minister remarked, “Despite being aware of the modus operandi, he has remained mum that implies he is protecting his party men and the bureaucrats to indulge in corruption.”
Reacting sharply, BJD spokesperson Amar Prasad Satpathy said, “People of Odisha better know whether rural development has been materialized or not. Ram Kripal Yadav hails from Bihar and was unable do rural development there when he was in Lalu Yadav’s party. Now he is in BJP, but could not come out successful in the last general elections there. The black glasses he is putting on are unable to see the rural development here in Odisha. The funds now directly go to the Panchayati Raj Department. Money is being spent through the Gram Sabha’s planning of required projects. Rather, he has agreed indirectly that pace of development in this State is comparatively better as the State is also pumping its own funds and implementing the developmental programmes.”