Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Bhubaneswar, Aug 18:
The Odisha government splurged public money on releasing full-page advertisements in all major newspapers on August 15, Independence Day, ritually listing out its ‘achievements’. One such ‘achievement’ that the advertisement sought to highlight was the construction of 5.7 lakh pucca houses under the Biju Pucca Ghara Yojana (BPGY).
Anyone who has read the advertisement and heard ruling party spokespersons speaking about the issue would get the impression that these 5.7 lakh houses have already been completed and presumably handed over to their rightful beneficiaries. But the facts tell an altogether different story. For all one knows, not even a single house may have been completed or handed over till now if the information provided by the government itself is any indication.
An RTI query on the issue by activist Pradip Pradhan on May 31, 2015 asking for information on three specific counts – total amount of money sanctioned under the scheme, the number of houses completed and proceedings of the review meeting of PDs of DRDAs conducted by the Chief Minister on May 20, 2015 – drew a curious response from the Panchayati Raj department where the applicant was advised to visit www.iay.nic.in under “AWAASSOFT Reports” to find out the number of houses constructed. But the said site contained no such information!
“I again browsed the website of Panchayat Raj Department to find out the information about BPGY. I got the information uploaded up to January 2015. Under the head ‘District-wise Physical Progress upto the Month of January 15’, I found that total number of 71234 houses under BPGY were under construction. What all this means is that the government has no information on the number of houses completed under the scheme,” the activist said.
It is possible that some of the houses under construction in January 2015 would have been completed by now. But the figure of 5.7 lakh houses ‘constructed’ has to be taken with a sackful of salt for the simple reason that there is no way the government could have initiated and completed nearly five lakh houses in seven months.
BPGY is a State plan scheme designed to provide new houses to the deserving and genuinely poor rural households not having any pucca house. The objective of the scheme is to convert all kutcha houses into pucca houses in rural areas of the state in a fixed time frame in a mission mode approach. It was a promise the ruling party had made in its manifesto for the 2014 elections.