Reported by Chinmaya Dehury
Bhubaneswar, Aug 8:
The Odisha government is finding to its dismay that its attempts to stave off further embarrassment on the rapidly unfolding discretionary quota saga by hurriedly announcing a task force to go into the issue is being stymied not by the opposition or the media, but leaders of the ruling party themselves.
After senior BJD leader and Cooperation Minister Damodar Rout, two other senior BJD leaders, Prafulla Ghadai and Rabinarayan Pani. have now jumped on to the discretionary allotment bandwagon and demanded the restructuring of the task force with members whose hands are not sullied with the dirt.
“Both the allottees and allocating agencies are equally responsible for the scam. The officials against whom allegations have been leveled in the same scam should not be in the task force. It is grossly unethical,” former finance minister Ghadai told reporters here.
Former chief whip of the BJD in the Assembly Ravinarayan Pani was also sceptical about the work of the task force constituted without much thought after the names of Rajya Sabha MP Kalpataru Das and his family cropped up as major beneficiaries of the scam.
“A guilty person cannot provide justice to someone. I am talking as a lawyer, forget about the party. Once somebody is proved guilty of something, he cannot give justice,” Pani said about the task force.
Yesterday, Rout had raised doubts over the constitution of the committee, which includes Housing and Urban Development and General Administration departments, which have allocated plots and houses under discretionary quota violating the existing law.
“How can the members of the task force, who have illegally availed houses or land under the quota, probe the alleged irregularities by other persons involved in the case? The truth cannot be unraveled unless the task force has members having a clean track record,” Rout told the media last night.
“The state government should come up with a clarification that all the members of task force are honest and investigation in the allotment of land and plot by the Bhubaneswar Development Authority (BDA), Odisha State Housing Board (OSHB) and the General Administration (GA) department under discretionary quota has been impartial,” Rout said.
It is to be noted that this website had reported that Taradatt, the head of the committee, has already communicated his views to the chief secretary in the matter.
According to sources, he has threatened to resign from the committee, if the two department officials who are part of the committee, are removed.
Besides, Taradatta, H & UD secretary in-charge Deoranjan Singh and GA special secretary Niteen Chandra are members of the task force.
While the controversy over the constitution of task force is gathering steam, it is yet to prepare the terms of reference (ToR) to probe into the matter.
“The terms of reference for the task force are yet to be outlined and no time frame has been fixed for the probe. The committee is confused about where to start – whether from 1995 or 2002. There are no guidelines either on which departments will come under the scrutiny. There is also no clarity on what action is to be taken against persons found guilty,” said an official.