Bhubaneswar: With a joint investigation into the alleged corruption done by arrested IFS Officer Abhay Pathak unravelling huge property in his name, funds amounting to Rs 726 crore sanctioned by the Government towards afforestation during 2020-21 has further raised doubts on Pathak’s involvement in massive misappropriation of the funds.
After the tainted IFS officer came under the Vigilance scanner and property worth crores of rupees in his possession were detected, questions like where and how the sanctioned money was spent and does the department concerned has proof of the expenditure are now doing the rounds.
On June 30 last year, the Additional PPCF (Plan, Program & Afforestation) through an email had submitted details about the afforestation programme for 2020-2021. He informed Minister Bikram Keshari Arukha that target was set to afforest 1,30,270 hectre area in 2020-21 to plant over Rs 16.23 crore saplings under various programmes, including Green India Mission and CAMPA. And, a budget of Rs 726 crore was earmarked for the same.
What more leads to suspicious of foul play is why the Forest and Environment Department all of a sudden sought a report from Pathak on execution of afforestation last year. And, did the Minister review the afforestation programme after receiving the report?
In view of such a huge amount of funds sanctioned for afforestation in a single year, it has now become crucial for the Vigilance to investigate expenditure towards the same in the previous years.
It is pertinent to mention here following allegations of corruption in afforestation programme, the Odisha Lokayukta has directed the state Vigilance for investigation of the matter.