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Centre takes away Odisha coal block

Bhubaneswar, Dec. 2: The political atmosphere in the state is charged with the Centre de-allocating the Utkal-D coal block that was earlier given to the Odisha Mining Corporation.

The coal ministry communicated its decision of de-allocation to the state government yesterday.

On November 7, an inter-ministerial group had recommended cancellation of the major coal block allotted to the state undertaking for its failure to put the mines to use.

BJP leader Bijay Mohapatra said: “It was a great loss to Odisha. Had the state not made any tacit understanding with a private company, this would not have happened.”

Sources said the Utkal-D block in Bisrampur Coalfields of Talcher, with a reserve of 80 million tonnes, had become controversial as the Odisha Mining Corporation had sought to develop the mines through a joint venture with Delhi-based Sainik Mining and Allied Services Limited.

However, the block could not be developed because the project, in which Sainik held 74 per cent share, failed to make any headway. The BJP leader said the state government’s motives had been exposed by this deal. “Those behind the deal should be punished,” he said.

Odisha Pradesh Congress chief Niranjan Patnaik said: “It has again been proved that the BJD government is corrupt.”

Odisha steel and mines minister Rajanikant Singh also termed the move as a setback for the state. “The Centre is not interested in Odisha’s industrialisation. They are not even sympathetic to the public sector units of the Odisha government,” he said.