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CM's Rs-100 crore dream project in Titabor loses sheen

Tarun Gogoi

Sentinel Digital Desk

From a Correspondent

JORHAT, April 1: The 100-crore water project which was deemed to be the dream project of Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi in his home constituency Titabor, is at shambles following alleged large-scale corruption, poor quality work by contractors, pocketing of an substantial amount of the fund by a section of officers of the PHED (Public Health Engineering) Department and multiple punctures along the pipelines. As a consequence, about 70 per cent of the total population of greater Titabor has been deprived of the supply of clean and uninterrupted water and instead streams and minor rivulets in the various pockets of the entire subdivision have been created, stretching from Titabor to Borholla bordering galand thus flooding the paddy fields.

To make matters worse, water and the hazardous bleaching powder in large quantities are mixed that flows through these punctured holes into the paddy fields while destroying the standard composition of the soil. And this happened at the behest of alleged corrupt Executive Engineers from time to time and a SDO who looked after the implementation of the project.

Talking to The Sentinel, Sofikul Haque, secretary of Titabor Legislative Assembly Constituency Coordition Committee said, "A massive scam has hit the Chief Minister's Rs 100-crore water project. The government had sanctioned the Rs 100-crore project so that the people of Titabor and greater Titabor could get fresh and arsenic-free water. The previous engineers and some even from the present set-up in Jorhat are directly involved in the scam and have already looted a huge amount from the sanctioned fund. While the previous works under Chief Engineer Ratish Chand and Executive Engineer Deepak Das have not yielded any result, the present state of work is not in any sense better under the corrupt executive engineer and a SDO. Even in my tive place of Borholla, we did not get a single drop of water from this project. I was the president of Zone 1 of the project and my colleague Pran Kurmi was the president of Zone II and we collectively resigned from the post seeing the scale of corruption."

Secretary Sofikul Haque further said, "The present Executive Engineer and the SDO have recently disbursed Rs 65 lakh in the first phase and Rs 25 lakh in the second phase in the me of the Soraipani project. But no work has been done. Their favoured contractors simply changed the laying of the pipes from their earlier location. The first Rs 65 lakh was jointly siphoned off by the Engineer and SDO along with the contractors. In this same Soraipani project earlier, during Ratish Chand's period, Rs 5 crore was meticulously siphoned off by bringing in Guwahati-based contractor Nripen Das and another one who was the son-in-law of Ratish Chand. I have already apprised the Chief Minister who has already ordered the concerned Minister in charge of the PHED Department to visit Titabor after Bihu and do a thorough inspection and very likely a high- level enquiry is going to be initiated to root out the corrupt. Also in the run-up to the State elections of 2016, if the Chief Minister fails to take strict steps, winning the next elections will not be easy as earlier. And if action flows from the Chief Minister's side, definitely the corrupt officials will get punishment. A probable Chief Minister's Vigilance Department enquiry is also on the cards. The people of Titabor are frustrated. No doubt the Chief Minister has a clean image. He ordered the project for the benefit of the people but corrupt officials have only known to pocket money. I will wait and see the development for a month or two and if the guilty is not punished, I along with other Congress workers will sit on an indefinite fast in front of the Public Health Engineering Department."

In the meantime, the people of Jorhat have alleged that the history of corruption in Titabor was fast being written by another Executive Engineer and SDO of the Jorhat PHED who were allegedly siphoning off funds under various water projects under the defunct category. An arrogant officer by ture, the SDO has minimum contact with the public because of his unruly behaviour and is mostly seen with his favoured contractors, alleged people.

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