Accusing the BJD government in Odisha of failing to utilise funds meant for tribals, Union Tribal Affairs Minister Jual Oram alleged that even half of the Rs.421 crore central grants for various welfare programmes remained unspent.

"The BJD government in Odisha failed to spend even half of Rs.421 crore central grants for different welfare programmes for tribals during 2014-15," Oram told reporters during a visit to Jeypore yesterday.

The Union minister, who was on a two-day visit to Koraput district, said the state government could spend only Rs.48 crore of Rs.104 crore sanctioned to Integrated Tribal Development Agencies (ITDAs) in Koraput and Jeypore.

Claiming that implementation of Odisha Tribal Livelihood and Empowerment Programme in Bandhugaon block smacks of "corruption", Oram alleged the state government did not allow him to visit the block to assess development activities, citing Maoist problems.

But in reality, the state government feared expose, the tribal leader alleged.

The Union minister formally launched Vanbandhu Kalyan Yojana for the block at Koraput. Under the Centrally sponsored scheme, Rs.10 crore will be spent annually for the next five years to develop it into a model block.

"Special emphasis will be on construction of roads and electrification of villages. The funds will also be spent on improving health care and education facilities. Tribal youths will be provided vocational training," he said.

Dismissing the allegation levelled by Oram, BJD Spokesperson Rabi Narayan Nanda claimed that the Centre has withdrawn support to several social welfare schemes, including Emergency Feeding Programme and many of these programmes are being run from the state fund.