Bhubaneswar: Biju Janata Dal Sunday accused Union Minister Dharmendra Pradhan of conspiring to stop Odisha Government’s ‘Aahar’ scheme – that provides discounted food to city dwellers.
Addressing a press conference here BJD spokesperson Sasmit Patra alleged that three public sector companies — Mahanadi Coalfields Ltd (MCL), NALCO and Rourkela Steel Plant (RSP) – have backed out from funding this scheme under pressure from Union Minister Dharmendra Pradhan.
According to documents produced by Patra in the conference, these companies had signed MOUs with the State Government on March 21, 2015 to provide funds for subsidizing ‘Aahar’ food from their Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) funds. While NALCO was to pay for Bhubaneswar based centers operating under this scheme, MCL had agreed to subsidise for Sambalpur and RSP for Rourkela.
However, all these three companies have backed out of renewing their contract with the government.
“It is surprising that BJP and its Union Minister Dharmendra Pradhan conspired against Odia people to snatch food from their lips. Under his pressure these three central PSUs have backed out from the scheme. Worse, the money has been diverted to Bihar for the benefit of Bihari people,” said Patra without getting into the details of how the funds were transferred and how Pradhan played a role to stop the CSR funds.
While the BJD did not provide any concrete evidence that could conclusively link Pradhan behind this decision of the PSUs, the minister refuted the allegations.
“BJD president and Odisha CM Naveen Patnaik is trying to win elections by terrorising poor people by saying that all welfare schemes will be stopped if PM Modi comes to power,” he tweeted.
It may be mentioned here that this scheme started on April 1, 2015 in Bhubaneswar to provide lunch to needy city dwellers at Rs5. Later, this model was implemented in several cities and towns. According to government claims, about 1 lakh meals get served under this scheme for Rs 5 every single day. About 8.2 crore meals have so far been served under this scheme.