Ghost of mining scam continue to haunt Odisha government

December 6, 2009 at 3:43 pm Leave a comment

Folloiwng is a report from The Pioneer:

The ghost of the mining scam that has been haunting the State Government for the last four months forced the Government to adjourn the Winter Session of the Odisha Legislative Assembly abruptly 14 days ahead of the normal schedule. The House which commenced on November 18 was scheduled to continue till December 19.

After the hullabaloo on the morning session on the issue of mining scam, the House was resumed in the afternoon. Every thing was normal till Government chief whip Rabi Naryan Pani moved a motion urging Speaker Pradeep Kumar Amat to end the session. The Opposition was clean bowled with this sudden move of the Government. “We don’t have any business to take up. So the House’s proceedings should come to an end,” argued Pani before Speaker Amat. Parliamentary Affairs Minister Raghunath Mohanty supported the move.

Later, Speaker Amat put the motion in the House. Amidst the severe protest by the Opposition, the Speaker proceeded with the customary practice of declaring the House adjourned for indefinite period. Even Leader of Opposition Bhupinder Singh and BJP Legislature Party leader KV Singh Deo did not participate in the thanksgiving motion which is a practice in Parliamentary business and proceedings. “The Government has no moral right to order a CBI probe into the mining scam. They feared to face the House,” said Singh Deo.

Terming the Government as a murderer of democracy, the Opposition rushed to the well and staged a dharna. “We will sit on dharna on Saturday and continue till December 19,” said agitated senior member of the Congress Santosh Singh Saluja. “The Government was not in a position to face the House on the issue of the mining scam,” said Saluja. The Opposition will meet the Governor on Sunday and decide its future course of action.

Earlier in the morning session, the Assembly was adjourned repeatedly as Opposition Congress members tried to climb up to the Speaker’s podium and broke his mike demanding a CBI probe into the multi-crore mining scam.

During the Zero Hour, Leader of Opposition Bhupinder Singh raised the issue of mining scam. Quoting a newspaper report, Singh alleged that Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik as the Union Mines Minister in 1998 had approved mining lease in favour of a company owned by Indrani Patnaik against whom the State Vigilance has registered a criminal case on charge of illegal mining in Keonjhar district. Indrani Patnaik is the wife of former Congress Minister Niranjan Patnaik’s elder brother Dipti Ranjan Patnaik and a close relative of former Chief Minister JB Patnaik.

Rejecting the investigation by the State Vigilance, Singh demanded a CBI probe in order to book all those involved in the mining irregularities.

“There is an attempt by the ruling BJD to drag the Congress name into alleged irregularities by the Indrani Patnaik company”, Singh said adding that a white paper on the mining deal would make things clear.

While Singh placed the demand at the top of his voice, Congress members rushed into well almost climbing onto the Speaker’s podium. The Chief Minister has been accused of granting mining lease to about 40 companies and persons during the last 10 years.

Congress member Gobardhan Das was warned by Speaker Pradip Kumar Amat against breaking the mikes. “What you have done is not correct. This is for the third time you have broken the mike”, the Speaker said. As uproarious scenes continued, the House was adjourned four times till 3 pm.

Later, Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik told mediapersons that he had not done anything wrong. Rejecting the demand of the Opposition, the Chief Minister said that no lease was granted illegally. “Rather it is the States who apply for mining lease before the Union Mines Ministry and the lease was granted only after a prior verification,” he said. Patnaik defending the Vigilance probe said that the Vigilance was already carrying out the investigation and stern action was being taken against the persons involved in the illegal mining in the State.

“Fearing to face the House over the mining scam, the Government adjourned the House,” alleged Opposition Chief Whip Prasad Harichandan, adding that it would send a wrong message to the public. On the other hand, Government Chief Whip Pani defended the decision of the Government. “The Congress has no other business except to create disturbance on the House. Public money should not be unnecessarily wasted,” he added.

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Entry filed under: Industries and mineral resources, Mining scam.

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