Bhubaneswar, Nov 7 (Odisha.in)- The notices slapped by Odisha on about 104 mines in the state for allegedly extracting ore in excess to their stipulated limits have triggered a controversy with opposition on Wednesday terming it as an eyewash.
While the state government said it slapped the notices as the Indian Bureau of Mines (IBM) a central government regulator did not take action on the matter, the opposition Congress and Bharatiya Janata party see the move as an admission of a mega mining scam.
According to state steel and mines secretary Rajesh Verma the miners have been asked to show cause why they would not be charged for the iron ore they raised in excess to their stipulated limit during last ten years and a penalty for doing that.
The cost of the iron ore extracted in excess to their limits and penalty has been calculated at a total of about 70,000 crore rupees for the 104 mines, he told Odisha.in.
Verma said the notices have been served in phases during a period of last two months and the miners have been asked to submit their reply at a stipulated period.
However the opposition Congress and BJP said by imposing fines on miners at this time after ten-year of alleged loot clearly exposes the unholy nexus between the government and the miners.
Did such mega loot happen overnight? What Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik was doing for the last 10 years even though we have been raising this issue time and again?” Union minister and senior Congress Srikanta Jena said.
“Would such huge loot be possible without the connivance of the Chief Minister and his associates?” Jena who is Union Minister of State (Independent Charge), Statistics and Programme Implementation and Chemicals and Fertilisers, pointed out.
“It is becoming clear that this loot has been deliberate, calculated, well- thought out, and meticulously planned due to the collusion of the Chief Minister –Naveen Patnaik with mining operators” he added.
“In fact, it is commonly acknowledged that a ‘cut’ of Rs.500 per ton of iron ore comes to the third floor of the state government secretariat in Bhubaneswar. Who are the beneficiaries of this ‘cut’? “ he asked.
Similarly Ashok Sahu, the spokesman of the state unit of BJP accused the government of attempting to covering up the scam by slapping such notices.
“Why the government is not suspending their mining licenses. Why the government is not taking criminal actions” Sahu told reporters. It is a clear ploy by both the Congress and the BJD to protect those involved in the scam, he said.
Refuting all the allegations, steel and mines Minister Rajanikant Singh said Odisha is the only state which has launched crackdown on illegal mining. The state government move was transparent, he said.