Bhubaneswar, Aug. 11: Panchyati raj secretary Deoranjan Kumar Singh, who is a member of the task force, formed to scrutinise the allotment of houses and plots under the discretionary quota, today said he had not taken any plot or house from any government agencies under the quota.
Following a hue and cry after The Telegraph reported in its July 23 edition on how powerful people had managed to get more than one house, chief minister Naveen Patnaik had formed a three-member team of officials, headed by additional chief secretary Taradatt, to examine the issue.
Singh, who is holding additional charge of the housing and urban development department, is a member of the team, along with special secretary of the general administration Nitin Chandra.
Political leaders, including a few from the BJD, had raised fingers at Singh, hinting that he was a beneficiary of the quota and hence was not fit to be on the panel.
Reacting for the first time, Singh said: “During my tenure as the vice-chairman of the Bhubaneswar Development Authority, of 800 houses, only three were given under the quota in the Pokhariput Duplex Housing Scheme. It was the then chairman, who had taken the decision. No one should blame me.”
Singh had been the BDA vice-chairman from 2008 to 2012. At that time, Badri Narayan Patra and Sarada Nayak were the ministers of the housing and urban development. By virtue of being the ministers, they were also holding the BDA chairman’s post. Patra was minister of the department from 2009 to 2011 and Nayak from 2011 to 2012.
Sources said the houses were distributed under the quota during Patra’s time. Now, Patra is the rural development minister in the Naveen Patnaik government.
Singh said that of the three houses, one had been returned to the authority. Sources said he was hinting at parliamentary minister Bikram Keshari Arukh, who had returned a house in 2011.
BJD vice-president Kalpataru Das’s son Dharmashala MLA Pranab Balbantray had to return two of his houses following the row.
Senior minister Damodar Rout, former ministers Kalindi Charan Behera, Prafulla Ghadei, Cuttack-Barbati MLA Debasis Samantray and Puri MLA Maheswar Mohanty came out openly against powerful people cornering government plots. Some had even indirectly taken exception to Singh being part of the force.
Rout’s stance on the issue came under criticism from his arch-rival former minister Bishnu Charan Das. “Rout should step down if he is not happy with the task force, a decision taken by the government,” he said.