By Bizodisha Bureau, Bhubaneswar, January 9, 2021: Odisha Lokayukta on Friday asked the vigilance department to probe whether a ruling Biju Janata Dal (BJD) MLA and other government officials conspired to blow up an irrigation embankment with dynamites that inundated 4,000 hectares of standing paddy crop in seven gram panchayats during the floods last year.

The order comes following a complaint by activist Sarbeswar Behura on August 28 last.

The activist complained that the BJD MLA Pranab Balabantaray and other corrupt officials in Jajpur district conspired to blow up the irrigation embankment road from NH-5 (Gokarneswar) to Budhalinga Majhipada Road in August last year to suppress the irregularities and misappropriation of huge amount of money in the construction work.

Behura said, the irrigation embankment road built to prevent the waters of Kelua river from inundating the farmlands was damaged by dynamites, resulting in submergence of 4,000 hectares of standing paddy crop in seven gram panchayats of Jajpur district, the Lokayukta asked the director of vigilance to conduct a preliminary inquiry on the following three references:

1. Whether breaches occurred in the road embankment due to substandard construction work resulting into washing away of the substantial portion of road embankment?

2. Whether breaches were created in the road embankment at the instance of Dharmasala BJD MLA and junior engineer Naren Jena to cover up corruption?

3. Whether in the construction work of the road embankment, corrupt practice was resorted to by any public servant or persons other than a public servant?

“A huge amount of Rs. 21.99 crore was recently spent by the works department on the development of road embankment. Therefore, normally, had the quality of construction work been proper, the breaches would not have occurred resulting into the washing away of a substantial portion of embankment. In other words, the embankment would have withstood the impact of flood water. There is also a possibility of man-made breaches for covering corruption as alleged in the complaint. We have already seen that a First Information Report in respect to creation of man-made breaches has been lodged by none other than deputy executive engineer of Jaraka irrigation division, who alleged that some miscreants have created man-made breaches unauthorisedly on the night of August 28 between 8 pm and 10 pm. To unravel the real cause of breaches in the road embankment, an inquiry is necessary,” the Lokayukta noted in his order.

Activist Behura, who had lodged the complaint, alleged that during the construction work of embankment road, after its transfer to the works department, the MLA in collusion with the junior engineer took a huge amount of money from the contractor.

He further alleged that as the contractor used sub-standard material in the construction work, the MLA and the engineer hired miscreants to cause breaches in the embankment road by using dynamites, to give an impression that the embankment was washed away because of the strong current of flood water to cover this up.

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