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Works EIC on fund collection drive for polls


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Until 2016, Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik held the Works Department portfolio. However, over the past six years, the department has been marred by significant irregularities. Arbitrary transfers and postings, coupled with a lack of transparency, have severely disrupted the department’s operations. This is particularly concerning as the department oversees crucial infrastructure development in the State.

In 2023, the Odisha Engineering Service cadre underwent reorganization, increasing the number of posts for Engineer-in-Chief (Level 17) from six to seven, and Chief Engineer (Level-16) from 15 to 22. Additionally, a new Chief Engineer (Roads) position was created, bringing the total to two, along with the creation of a Chief Engineer (Design) post. Furthermore, three Chief Engineers were assigned to the Odisha Bridge Construction Corporation (OBCC).

However, eyebrows were raised when, despite two Chief Engineer (Roads) positions being available according to the gradation list, they were left vacant. Instead, Engineer-in-Chief (Civil) Manoranjan Mishra was appointed to oversee Chief Engineer (Roads), sparking questions. Allegations suggest this move was intentional to consolidate control over funds and manage payments to contractors executing various projects.

A notable instance of manipulation by the Chief Engineer (Civil) occurred in January 2024, when 12 officials were promoted per notification (No: FE-1PER-0052-2023-1736), yet none have assumed their new roles. It’s alleged this delay was orchestrated to ensure their compliance in fund collection under Mishra’s directives.

In a notification dated 8/2/2024 (No. FE-I-PER-0051-02023-2819/W), Tusharkant Panda, previously Chief Engineer (NH), was promoted to Engineer-in-Chief of the RD Department but “deployed” as Chief Engineer (NH). This has raised suspicions of a potential conspiracy, especially given the number of engineers awaiting promotion in the department.

Another notification (FE-I-PER-0053-2023-3676/W) dated 27/2/24 saw the promotion of 38 Superintendent Engineers (Civil) to Additional Chief Engineer (Civil). However, they have yet to assume their new roles and are still in their previous positions, raising further doubts.

These transfers and postings have fueled strong suspicions regarding Mishra’s motives. There are concerns that he may be using his position to spearhead a fund collection drive for the ruling party in anticipation of the upcoming general elections. It is imperative for the Election Commission of India to conduct a thorough investigation into this matter to ensure the integrity of the electoral process.

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