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BJD on mat over grant gaffe

Bhubaneswar, Dec. 12: The BJD was in the dock today after the Congress accused it of trying to mislead the people and the House on the issue of central assistance released to Odisha for relief and reconstruction in the areas ravaged by Phailin and the floods.

Though the Centre had released Rs 1,000 crore as promised for relief and reconstruction, revenue and disaster minister Surjya Naryan Patro had told the Assembly earlier that the state had so far only received Rs 250 crore.

Armed with documents, Congress chief whip Prasad Harichandan today told the Assembly that the Congress-led UPA government had released Rs 250 crore to the State Disaster Response Fund and Rs 750 crore from the National Disaster Response Fund in two instalments.

The minister backtracked after Harichandan made a forceful speech. Patro admitted his fault and said he had not checked the details with the finance department before making the statement.

Soon after Harichandan made the statement, agitated Congress members trooped into the Well and demanded an apology and resignation of the minister. “It is an act of treason. The minister must resign,” said leader of Opposition Bhupinder Singh.

As the ruckus continued, the House witnessed a series of adjournments, forcing Speaker Pradeep Amat to direct the minister to make a statement on this issue. Later admitting his mistake, Patro said: “On November 29, Rs 250 crore was released from the NDRF. Later on December 3, another Rs 500 crore was credited to the state’s exchequer. But, the information was not uploaded on the central government website.”

After the issue was raised, the minister said he had checked the facts with the state finance department and got to know about the release of assistance. After the minister admitted his mistake, the Opposition members sat on a dharna on the Assembly premises demanding his resignation.