Union Petroleum Minister Dharmendra Pradhan has requested the Rural Development Minister N S Tomar to conduct a high level probe into the rural housing scheme in Odisha.

Levelling grave allegations of ‘ambush marketing’and false claims of the Odisha government regarding construction of 17 lakh houses under rural housing scheme, Pradhan said that the Naveen Patnaik government was misleading people.

Odisha government is in the habit of launching schemes akin to Central Government schemes and appropriate credit, much against spirit of cooperative federalism, he charged.

Evidently trying to expose the Naveen Patnaik government by conducting a probe, Pradhan said, “during the recent concluded Rath Yatra at Puri, the Odisha government came up with advertisements claiming that the State Government has completed over 17 lakh pucca houses for the rural poor in the past four years under Biju Pucca Ghar Yojana (BPGY), a State Government sponsored scheme.”

However, the State Government’s own Rural Housing Odisha website states that only 2.8 lakh houses have been built under schemes exclusively sponsored by the State Government such as the BPGY, BPGY (Mines) and Nirman Shramik Pucca Ghar Yojana.

The misrepresentation of facts regarding rural housing schemes by Odisha government and the appropriation of work done under rural housing schemes launched by the Central Government as exclusive State Government sponsored schemes is glaring, he charged.

Earlier in 2016, Odisha government had made a specious statement that it had constructed 10 lakh Biju Pucca houses for rural poor, but when the matter was raised by Dilip Ray in Odisha Assembly on 6 December, 2016, it shied away saying that the information regarding rural houses built under various schemes was in the process of being compiled.

There are allegations of partisanship and Irregularities in the allotment of houses under rural housing schemes. News reports have highlighted that State administration is bypassing the priority list drawn by Gram Sabhas based on SECC Survey 2011 to give precedence to favoured parties.

Many beneficiaries have also revealed that they are being forced to put up BPGY logos in their houses built under Pradhan Mantri Awaas Yojana – Grameen, said Pradhan in his letter to Mr Tomar.

The rural housing case is not an isolated instance. This is an old tactic of the BJD government to start schemes akin to Central Government schemes and appropriate credit, much against spirit of cooperative federalism.

For example, the Odisha government has systematically engaged in ambush marketing to pass off the massive subsidy granted by the Central Government in distribution of rice for the poor as a State Government initiative.

The people of Odisha are led to believe that the Rs 1 Rice’ scheme is exclusively funded by Naveen Patnaik government whereas, the fact is that the centre bears Rs 29 per kg as subsidy vis-a-vis Rs 2 per kg as subsidy borne by the State Government.

Recently, the Odisha government also declared that the `108 Ambulance’ medical emergency service is solely funded by the state , he alleged. In another instance, soon after the Prime Minister launched the `Ayushman Bharat’ programme, the Odisha government announced the `Biju Swasthya Kalyan Yojana’ as a simulacrum of this groundbreaking initiative, he noted.

A high-level probe will expose the Naveen Patnaik government, he noted while adding that proactive measures need to be taken for an appropriate awareness campaign in Odisha so that the people of the State are not obfuscated from the visionary initiatives of the centre, said Pradhan.