| Srikant Jena |
Bhubaneswar, March 8: In a missive to chief minister Naveen Patnaik, Union minister of state for chemicals and fertilisers Srikant Jena today said that the Congress would like to have a public debate with him on four issues.
Jena, who is the Pradesh Congress campaign committee chairman for Odisha, said that Naveen had to take a call on the timing and venue of the debate.
The Congress on Thursday had urged the chief minister to respond to their request by Monday failing which its delegation would march to the chief minister’s office or residence.
In a formal letter to Naveen today, Jena said the most important issue was the mining scam on which the Congress wanted a debate. “This is not allegations but a fact that is borne out by the Justice M.B. Shah Commission’s findings. Odisha’s valuable iron ore has been looted to the tune of Rs 60,000 crore over the past 10 years. This is just the tip of the iceberg as other mining areas were not even included in the report,” he said.
Jena also alleged that nearly Rs 1 lakh crore worth of precious chromite ore had also been looted from the Sukinda valley. “But, the government has not been able to stop it. The fact is that 60 families have looted the state while 60 lakh families out of 85 lakh families of Odisha live below the poverty line,” Jena said.
Raising the issue of central assistance to Odisha, the Union minister said: “Contribution of the UPA’s central assistance vis-à-vis the NDA and the BJD’s initiative towards development of Odisha should be discussed.”
Stating that the chief minister was in the power for 14 years and also part of the NDA regime at the Centre, Jena said: “The UPA has been in power for 10 years. Let us discuss their respective contribution towards the development of Odisha, and who has been slyly claiming credit and shamelessly siphoning off money to 60 families, who have looted the state.”
Jena also cited how the UPA government had made investments in the state, including the Paradip PCPIR petro-chemical complex, revival of the Talcher Fertiliser Plant and the software technology park in Balasore. He also raised the issue of how the Centre was giving 90 per cent funding to the rice at Re 1 per kg scheme.
The Congress also raised the issue of how 23 lakh families had lost their valuable hard-earning savings by the money deposit collection companies. Accusing the chief minister Jena said: “You have personally become the brand ambassador for money deposit collection companies.”
Stating that Odisha was still languishing in poverty, Jena said there was no growth in agriculture sector, but exploitation of farmers continued. “Despite the cheapest cost of production of electricity, consumers are paying in highest tariff on electricity,” he said.