The locked chamber of Arjun Munda at the chief ministers secretariat in Dumka
Dumka, March 14: The chief ministers secretariat-cum-camp office in Dumka costs the state exchequer Rs 10 lakh per annum in maintenance, but is of little use to the people of Santhal Pargana, for whose benefit it was set up in the first place.
The secretariat was established in 2006 in what is considered to be Jharkhands second capital with the objective of bringing governance to the people of Santhal Pargana for whom approaching the powers that be in Ranchi was difficult owing to the distance involved.
While inaugurating the secretariat on January 26, 2006, the then chief minister Arjun Munda had announced that he would visit the camp office for a few days every month to address grievances of local people and provide direct governance to ensure overall development of the region.
However, in the five years of its existence, the camp office has seen little activity even though Munda is now serving his third term as chief minister. Both local MP and MLA — Shibu guruji Soren and his son Hemant — have also been at the helm of affairs.
Munda has so far visited the camp office twice, while inaugurating it and again soon after assuming office this time when he presided over a meeting of senior administrative officials of the region.
Soren senior inaugurated the online distribution scheme of old age pension at a function organised by the district administration at the camp office in December 2009. Residents of the region have now come to terms with lack of interest on the part of the authorities.
Initially, people used to submit applications concerning various government departments but slowly they got discouraged as no step was ever taken to address their problems, said Manoj Kumar Das, who has been posted here as the chief ministers orderly since August 2009.
These days, Das refuses to accept applications as he does not even have a seal of the chief ministers camp office to stamp receipts. He has no funds for postal expenses either.
The monthly expense towards salary of district police personnel posted on the premises and the chief ministers orderly is about Rs 75,000, over and above which a peon is paid on a daily basis. According to sources, Rs 50 lakh has been spent on salaries in the last five years. But the state government is yet to create various posts needed to make the secretariat functional.
The camp office makes a mockery of the people of Santhal Pargana given that Dumka enjoys the status of the second capital, former deputy chief minister Stephen Marandi told The Telegraph, adding that he had, time and again, raised the issue with Shibu Soren.
How can we expect anything from the present government when Soren failed to give shape to the ambitious Sona-Soberan pilot training academy in Dumka, named after his parents and inaugurated amid much fanfare two years ago? Marandi asked.
The secretariat itself, earlier the office of the Santhal Pargana commissioner, was renovated at a cost of Rs 20 lakh. Rs 2 lakh was spent in the last financial year on minor repairs and whitewash, said Prakash Singh, executive engineer of the building division.
In Ranchi, cabinet co-ordination secretary Aditya Swaroop said the government was serious about setting up more offices in Dumka. Several things are in process and the state government is serious about setting up regional offices of various government departments. Things have been delayed but would certainly take a shape in near future, he said.