| Eye of a storm
Bhubaneswar, Dec. 17: The Opposition today staged a walkout in the Odisha Assembly as the government rejected their demand for a CBI probe into the multi-crore mining scam.
“There is no need for CBI inquiry, as a vigilance probe is on and the state government has already taken action against errant mines owners,” said the state’s steel and mines minister Rajanikant Singh.
Opposition members accused the government of having sponsored the mining scam to the tune of Rs 10 lakh crore. Describing the vigilance probe as “eyewash”, they alleged the state vigilance had not filed a single criminal action against the errant mines owners and reiterated their demand for a CBI probe.
As revealed from railway sources alone, illegally raised minerals worth Rs 10 lakh crore have been transported during the past 10 years, said Opposition members.
Congress chief whip Prasad Harichandan said the state government had virtually admitted to the mining scam by issuing notice to 109 mines owners for recovery of Rs 57,907 crore for raising excess minerals beyond surface rights.
“The state government issued notices to the mines owners for excess mining only after the Shah Commission visited the state. Why did the state government not take action earlier,” asked Harichandan.
Claiming that the state-owned Odisha Mining Corporation (OMC) had undertaken excess mining of minerals worth Rs 35,000 crore alone, the Congress leader said: “Let the OMC set an example by paying the amount to the state government.”
Steel and mines minister, Singh said coal block allocation was being made by the Centre. The state government only makes recommendations.
The state government had recommended for allotment of 47 coal blocks to the state public sector undertakings and private companies, who have signed MoU for establishment of industries in Odisha.
However, the Centre has allotted coal block to 15 such units,
“However, the Centre has allotted the coal blocks in such a manner that the state government has landed in difficulty. While allotting coal blocks, they have clubbed public sector units or other organisations of other states. It has not been possible to work on these coal blocks because of lack of coordination,” said the minister.