Patnagarh: Patnagarh subdivision administration Sunday seized four tractors and a JCB machine which were illegally transporting murram from pasture lands under this subdivision in Bolangir district.
As Patnagarh tehsil office is closed today, penalties will be collected from the seized vehicle owners Monday, official sources said.
According to reports, a 6km-long road construction work which is being carried out by Patnagarh forest office stretches from Pipaldabar village up to Gayalmara area. The road is being constructed under Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (MGNREGS) with an estimated cost of Rs 4,44,282.
However, seizure of vehicles has sparked controversy between the district administration and Bolangir forest department. It is known that, the road construction work is being carried out by utilising JCB machines instead of local MGNREGS beneficiaries.
Tractor-loads of murram were being transported from nearby pasture lands at Pipaldabar. Acting on a tip-off, Patnagarh Additional Collector and Magistrate in-charge Khirod Chandra Sahu raided the spot and seized the vehicles that have been kept at local police station.
On being contacted, Patnagarh forest ranger Basudev Nath said, “A forester is in charge of the road construction work. As this road is being done by a government department, hence no permission from the district administration is required for lifting murram.”
“As labourers are unavailable due to COVID-19 outbreak in the district, a JCB machine was being utilised for fast completion of the road construction work,” Patnagarh forest ranger added.
Reacting to this, the magistrate in-charge said, “Things will become clear as to how illegal lifting of murram was being carried out from pasture lands only after a proper investigation. Necessary administrative and legal steps will be taken accordingly.”