Bhubaneswar, Dec 14: Odisha is now passing through a strange period – a period that suits much to the interest of bureaucrats, police and ruling Biju Janata Dal leaders. In the pretext of the fight against the Covid pandemic, restrictions have been imposed on entry of common people into major and crucial establishments, denying them the opportunity to avail their desired public services.
Prolonged restriction on access to public institutions has also deprived people to know about their functioning. Besides, people, including the elected representatives, now have less opportunity to know how much transparency and good governance parameters are being followed in Covid management, development works and functioning of different wings of the government.
Let’s sample this: State Secretariat aka Lokseva Bhawan is the principal organ of the state administration. It’s now run with 75 per cent employees’ attendance and every Saturday has been declared an off-day.
When the state government claims of flattening the Covid curve and no Covid infections among government employees attending secretariat duty are reported, it is not understood why such order continues to remain in force.
Spending crores of taxpayers’ money in the salary of these employees and non-availing their service raises questions on the wisdom of the state government.
The reception counter of the state secretariat also remains shut for nine months now ever since the Covid crisis set in. Similar is the case with Rajiv Bhawan and Kharavela Bhawan. Rumours are doing the rounds that a section of bureaucrats and ruling party politicians wants continuation of the status quo as it protects the government against the attempts by the Right to Information Activists to obtain information from major establishments.
The Odisha Tourism department conducted the Konark Dance Festival. Every evening, more than 500 guests attended and enjoyed the cultural extravaganza. No reports of these people or the dancers getting Covid-infected were available. In Tirtol and Balasore, political parties were allowed to campaign with hundreds of party workers and supporters. No Covid infections from among these people were reported. Strangely enough, in Bhubaneswar and other places, the government continues to impose restrictions on meetings, seminars and conferences.
In another strange behavior, government-run auditoriums are being allowed to be used for official functions. But the same auditoriums have remained out of the reach of common people for meetings, seminars and cultural programmes.
How long this kind of strange and discriminatory behavior will continue is the major question that many want to be answered.