Raipur Congress spokesperson Surendra Verma, has lashed out at BJP State General Secretary and former Collector O P Choudhary, holding him accountable for the predicament of 70 shopkeepers in Raipur. Verma’s remarks come in the wake of controversy surrounding the removal of these shopkeepers in the name of oxy zone. Verma asserted that it is Choudhary who should shoulder the responsibility for displacing these shopkeepers and urged him to apologize for his role in their plight. He pointed out that during Choudhary’s tenure as the Raipur Collector under the Raman government, historic temples were demolished, leaving a trail of controversy. Verma alleged that during the Raman government’s reign, the Marhi Mata Temple and Mauli Mata Temple faced demolition. Allegations of misappropriation of funds from the District Mineral Foundation (DMF) were raised, particularly regarding the improper beautification of Katora Talab. The DMF funds were also reportedly used for constructing auditoriums and oxygen-related projects. Furthermore, Verma criticized the installation of four elevators in a four-story building and the construction of a swimming pool in the officer’s residence. He lamented that the rights and privileges of the impoverished population in mining and industry-affected areas were exploited. Responding to the allegations, Choudhary contended that despite the Congress being in power in Chhattisgarh for five years, they failed to resolve the issue of the 70 shopkeepers evicted in the name of oxygen in Raipur city. Choudhary accused the Congress of diverting attention from their own failures by making baseless allegations. Verma further asserted that during Choudhary’s tenure as Raipur Collector, the Municipal Corporation demolished the shops on Pandri Road in December 2017, purportedly in connection with oxygen-related concerns. Despite a year passing under the BJP-led government, the issue remained unresolved. Notably, two ministers, Brijmohan Agrawal and Rajesh Munat, hailing from Raipur city, were part of that government. The area from which the shops were removed belonged to the Raipur North Vidhan Sabha constituency, represented by BJP’s Shreechand Sundarani at the time. Verma stated that the shopkeepers had made desperate appeals to Choudhary, Brijmohan Agrawal, Rajesh Munat, and Shreechand Sundarani during their tenure, but their pleas fell on deaf ears. Subsequently, the Congress government initiated efforts to resolve the long-standing issue. The proposal for the management of the affected shopkeepers has already received approval in the Municipal Corporation’s general assembly. The state government has also granted permission to manage the shopkeepers near Pandri’s Veerangana Avanti Bai Lodhi Chowk. Verma assured that the management of the shopkeepers will be swiftly executed, bringing an end to their ordeal.
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