RAUTAHAT, June 23: Husnara Khatun, deputy mayor of Ishnath Municipality, has accused the mayor and the chief administrative officer (CAO) of misappropriating budget funds meant for development projects.
Calling a press conference at her home in Laxminiya on Friday, Deputy Mayor Khatun accused the two of monopoly and of embezzling a huge chunk of the budget. According to her, Mayor Santosh Mehta and CAO Nanda Kishor Gupta are spending the development budget rampantly and this is encouraging substandard work.
Deputy Mayor Khatun said the duo have been sidelining her from decision making and carrying out most development projects without consulting her.
She said the mayor and the CAO are keeping her in the dark regarding many projects although she had asked them repeatedly for information. The municipality has also not formed a judicial committee to look into these matters, she added.
Khatun accused the duo of diverting the budget meant for the judicial committee into various consumer committees and of appointing kith and kin to these bodies. She demanded proper investigations.
Khatun, who is the coordinator of the Project Inspection Committee, expressed dismay over compensation being extended to various projects without proper investigations. She also spoke of the use of fake signatures for getting some projects approved.
"Why has the government made women's participation mandatory in elections?" she questioned, adding, "They shouldn't underestimate women, local representatives, since we have been elected by the people, not by the mayor ."
Lamenting that she is not even invited to some of the meetings, Khatun said "I am here just as window dressing. Women's empowerment is still limited to paper."
Meanwhile, Mayor Mehta refuted the allegations made by Khatun. He claimed that the deputy mayor of Ishnath is the most privileged in all the 18 local units of Rautahat. "We have been conducting each project in co-operation and consultation with her," said Mehta.
According to him, Khatun has been raising these issues of late under manipulation by her husband.