.........BALANGIR: THE Water Resources department has asked the Balangir Land Acquisition Officer to initiate criminal proceedings against the officials of Lower Suktel project who were allegedly involved in financial irregularities by making excess payment to ineligible beneficiaries.
In a letter, Joint Secretary of Water Resources department J P Dash has asked Balangir Special Land Acquisition Officer (LAO) Marshal Ekka to probe the matter and initiate disciplinary action against the erring officials.
According to sources, by forging records in connivance with Lower Suktel officials, several people siphoned off huge amount of compensation money. Even some unscrupulous officials had made excess payment to ineligible persons. Sources said after the project started in 2001, several people, mostly those residing outside the project area of Lower Suktel, purchased land under the project area hoping to get more compensation once their land is acquired for the project.
In the letter, the Joint Secretary also directed the Special LAO to file certificate cases under the Orissa Public Demands Recovery (OPDR) Act against the officials who were instrumental in depriving genuine beneficiaries by awarding compensation to ineligible persons and recover the excess payment. “The internal audit of Water Resources department has pointed out financial irregularities and cases of excess payment made in fraudulent manner. You are directed to initiate criminal and disciplinary action against erring officials and recover excess payment through certificate case under OPDR Act,” the letter stated.
When contacted, Superintending Engineer Belalsen Bhoi said the district administration will probe the irregularities on case-to-case basis and submit the report to the Government soon. Similarly, action will be taken against erring officials and fraudulent beneficiaries as per law, he added.
Earlier, irregularities to the tune of `64 crore in Lower Suktel project were detected and some officials were suspended.