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Rural housing scam: Odisha govt wakes up to initiate action


Bhubaneswar: The Odisha government’s Panchayati Raj Department is planning stringent action against those involved in irregularities in construction of houses in rural areas under various government schemes.

The Department has asked beneficiaries who have availed assistance under various schemes but haven’t constructed houses to return the amount. On refund of the availed amount, they can be covered under new schemes.

However, action will be taken if they default on refunding the availed assistance. The Department has warned of stringent action against both erring officials and fraud beneficiaries as well.

“The government has provided you with money to build houses. There is no problem for those who have constructed houses after availing assistance. The amount of assistance will be recovered from beneficiaries who haven’t constructed houses. Recovery will be made by initiating proceedings against them under the Orissa Public Demands Recovery Act (OPDR Act). However, if one refunds the money he/she will be eligible for houses in the future,” informed Deoranjan Kumar Singh, Commissioner-cum-Secretary, Panchayati Raj Department speaking to reporters after media expose of large-scale scam in Indira Awas Yojana.

According to a report published in leading Odia daily ‘Sambad’ today, corruption under the IAY has crossed all limits in the case of Rabaneswar village in Iswarpur panchayat under Rajnagar block in Kendrapara district.

As per official records, 24 pucca houses have been sanctioned to 22 families under the
IAY but strangely the village doesn’t have a single pucca house barring the school building.

The records say that 11 IAY houses in the village have been completed and two have been completed up to the roof level.

Beneficiaries whose houses have been completed as per official records are Gobinda Jena (S/o Raghunath), Narayan Jena (S/o Sanatan) , Nayaran Jena (S/o Hari), Adikanda Jena(S/o Dhani), Basanti Jena (W/o Gobinda), Niranjan Jena (S/o Dhani), Raghu Jena(S/o Janakar), Sukdev Jena (S/o Suryamani), Sulochana Jena(W/o Maheswar), Sanatan Jena (S/o Dhani) and Kunjalata Jena (S/oDhaneswar).

These beneficiaries were provided with pucca houses on being specially included under the IAY after the 1999 super cyclone. They have availed Rs 22,000 each under the existing provisions then.

Later, all others in the village have been covered under the IAY in phases. They are Chaitanya Jena (S/o Ram) in 2004-05, Krushna Chandra Jena (S/o Dhaneswar) in 2006-07; Ranjan Jena (S/o Raghu), Akshay Jena (S/o Sukdev) and Ramesh Chandra Jena (S/o Sukdev) in 2007-08; Rathahari Jena(S/o Dadhi), Purna Chandra Jena (S/o Sanatan), Banamali Jena (S/o Raghu), Basudeb Jena (S/o Madhusudan), Kailash Jena (S/o Baidhar) and Ramakant Jena (S/o Prasanna).

While Ramesh Chandra Jena and Akshay Jena have availed three installments of the grant by citing completion of houses up to the roof level, others have availed the first installment.

Similarly, Rinarani Jena, whose husband Basudeb Jena was earlier allotted IAY house has availed the first installment of the assistance money. Basudeb had taken money for construction of an IAY house in 2011-12 but had not constructed the house despite that Rinarani has been sanctioned funds for construction of an IAY house.

While the village has a sum total of 22 houses, 24 IAY houses have been allotted.

Notably, under the government rules funds for IAY houses are provided in installments at different stages of construction. Installments are released after submission of a report by the Panchayat Executive Officer (PEO) following due inspection. Strangely, while the village doesn’t have a single pucca house, 13 have been provided with all the installments and 11 have been provided with the first installment.