Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Bhubaneswar, Sep 6:
Amidst the ongoing tussle between Odisha’s ruling Biju Janata Dal and BJP on the eligibility of attendees at Center’s Ujjwala scheme events, Nodal Officer for the scheme in Odisha G Swaminathan today said that there is no provision in the scheme to engage local politicians.
Speaking on the scheme and the trouble faced by oil marketing companies in the state while conducting the events, Swaminathan said, ”New connections were released in public functions across the state in order to educate & popularize the scheme and spread awareness among the intended beneficiaries. Oil marketing companies conducted the programs in all the 314 blocks of the state and completed the same on August 31. A total of 320 programmes were organized during the period which covered all the 314 blocks apart from functions in NACs, municipalities among others. These could be successfully conducted in spite of disruptions in few blocks like Athagarh, Nimapada, Parlekhamudi and some blocks of Nabarangpur, Ganjam & Malkangiri districts when OMCs had to request concerned agencies and police protection to ensure conduction of programs”.
“The chief guests for these programs included school/ college teachers/ principal, retired government employees, bank officers, lawyers, doctors, media, engineers, ex-servicemen, social workers, freedom fighters etc. Seven exclusive block launches were conducted during August 15, 2016 to August 17, 2016 in which the freedom fighters were felicitated and they were the Chief Guests keeping the theme during the 70th year of independence when their sacrifices were to be remembered under Yaad Karo Qurbani initiative,” he added making it clear that there are no guidelines for inviting local political representatives to such events.
“OMCs would request active support from one and all to ensure that the women of Odisha are benefitted from the scheme and a change in both their lifestyle and health leads to real empowerment of women,” said Swaminathan.
Swaminathan’s statement follows Odisha Chief Secretary Aditya Prasad Padhi letter to Union Petroleum and Natural Gas Ministry in which he advised the Ministry to invite local political representatives at Center’s Ujjwala scheme events.
“The association of local representatives would rapidly facilitate successful implementation of the Ujjwala scheme. The list of selected beneficiaries in any town, block or panchayat should be shared with the local officials and elected representatives for better transparency in the distribution process. Such functions should, preferably, be held in the premises of government institutions like blocks, gram panchayats and urban local bodies”, Padhi had mentioned in his letter.
Earlier, on the face of protests and violence at some of the Ujjwala scheme events, Petroleum Secretary had written to the state requesting security cover at the event venues.