More than Rs20 crore have allegedly been misappropriated in plantation of mango and cashew saplings in Kashipur block of Rayagada district.
Surprisingly, documents show that three government agencies – horticulture, watershed mission and ITDA – have planted trees on the same land, but not a single sapling stands on the land, locals alleged. The funds granted by the concerned departments have allegedly been siphoned off by the concerned officials.
According to reports, officials records stated that saplings were planted on behalf of the watershed mission on a patch of 0.25 acres of land belonging to Gahi Majhi (plot no-299/239) of Pudugsil village of Sunger panchayat under Kashipur block in 2012-13. Similarly, horticulture department and ITDA planted trees on 1.05 hectares and 3.31 acres of land of the same person, according to documents. Surprisingly, Majhi is not aware of the development. Moreover, he doesn’t possess such a plot of land, he said.
In another case, ITDA department planted trees on 2.56 acres of land of Kantaru Naik (plot no-417) of the village, according to records. But originally, the plot belongs to Ghasi Damba of the village and the size of the plot is just 10 cents, much smaller than the size claimed by ITDA. Similar complaints were made by Bisha Majhi, Arati Majhi, Bevari Majhi, Gopal Majhi and others of the village.
The officials of the three departments allegedly inflated the size of the plots and planted trees on paper, while the villagers claim they possess much smaller lands.
According to official records, more than Rs29 lakh have been spent on the preservation of mango saplings which were planted across 20 hectares of land in Lakris village in 2012-13. But in reality, not a single tree exists on the said land, villagers claimed.
It was alleged that crores of rupees have been embezzled in the name of plantations. Reports said the money has been spent by the three departments on plantation and preservation of saplings in the block. The horticulture department has planted trees on 1,500 hectare of land while watershed mission planted on 2,100 hectares and ITDA on 450 hectares of land.
Similar allegations were levelled by residents of about 40 villages including Chunimaribhatta, Baliguda, Durukhal, Abatkari, Kumkhal, Tikiripadar, Talapanga, Badachenga and Jamuguda of Kashipur block and Padmapur block of the district.
Meanwhile, two villagers of Lakris – Iswar Nayak and Koteswar Nayak – Monday filed a petition with the collector at a grievance redressal cell. They claimed complaints were lodged with the administration October 19 last year but it yielded no results.
When contacted, Rayagada sub-collector Muralidhar Swain said he has not received any such allegation.
“I wrote to Vigilance department to conduct a probe into the allegations in 2014 but there is no headway in this direction so far,” SC/ST welfare minister Lalbihari Himirika said.
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