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Opp. smells Jindal scam

Bhubaneswar, July 6: After Vedanta, the issue of alleged concession given by the Naveen Patnaik government to Jindal Stainless today generated heat in the Orissa assembly with the Opposition demanding a CBI probe into an alleged scam.

Steel and mines minister Padmanabha Behera, on the other hand, stoutly refuted the allegation and rejected a CBI probe.

Moving an Opposition-sponsored adjournment motion, former minister and senior Congress leader Niranjan Patnaik alleged the state-owned Orissa Mining Corporation had supplied chrome ore to Jindal Stainless at a concessional price of about Rs 2,000 per tonne for export. This resulted in huge revenue loss of Rs 100crore to the exchequer, he alleged.

The Congress leader claimed the PSU had supplied 87,890 tonnes of chrome ore to Jindal at Rs 2,834 per tonne against a market price of Rs 5,100. Excise duty and education tax was also not imposed on the chrome ore exported by Jindal Stainless, he added.

Alleging that there is a nexus between the central government’s Metals and Minerals Trading Corporation, Patnaik dared the state government to “order a CBI probe to prove its much-professed transparency and honesty”.

Supporting the demand for a CBI inquiry, deputy leader of opposition Narasingha Mishra alleged a huge kickback had changed hands in the deal. He wondered as to how chrome ore was supplied to Jindal when the company had not even started production and when it had its own captive mines.

Responding to the Opposition allegation, the steel and mines minister rejected that any concession was made to Jindal Stainless.

He also washed off his hands stating that export price for chrome ore and concentrate is fixed by MMTC, the only authorised canalising agency appointed by the Union government.

Behera claimed the chrome traders of the state had earlier deposited export duty on chrome ore at the rate of Rs 2,000, which, he said, “became effective from March 1 this year”.

He rejected the demand for a CBI probe, even as the Opposition stormed the Well of the House.

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