Bhubaneshwar: The opposition BJP on Wednesday demanded a CBI probe into alleged irregularities worth around Rs 9 lakh-crore in Odisha’s mining sector between 2000-2014.
Addressing a press conference, leader of the opposition Jaynarayan Mishra claimed that the total value of mining irregularities is Rs 8,97,443 crore.
“It is suspected that ‘corruption’ in mining took place with the knowledge and under the supervision of Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik,” he said.
Mishra’s allegation was rejected by senior BJD leader and MLA Badrinarayan Patra.
“It is their (opposition) habit of making such statements to mislead people and gain mileage ahead of the upcoming election,” Patra, also a former minister hailing from the mineral-rich Kenojhar district, said.
The BJP leader said it would be appropriate to order a CBI probe into the alleged scam.
Mishra informed that he has written to the President, Prime Minister, Odisha Governor, and chief minister highlighting the irregularities.
“I have also spoken to the PM in this regard. The PM expressed surprise over such irregularities,” the leader of the opposition told reporters.
Asked whether he made such allegations keeping in view the upcoming Lok Sabha and assembly elections, Mishra said, “I have information about mining irregularities sine a long time. However, I could not bring them to the public as I was unwell and hospitalised for a long period. Now after getting discharged, I am highlighting the matter.” Mishra claimed that out of the 192 leased mines, 176 are in forest areas of which 98 are operating without forest and environment clearance.
He said of the 98 leased mines, 47 are running without forest clearance, while around 55 are adversely affecting rivers, rivulets, flora and fauna, and tribal populations in different parts of the state.
Mishra alleged that irregularities have also been noticed through excess exploration of minerals from around 75 iron ore and manganese mines.
He claimed many such mines were located near elephant corridors in Sundergarh and Keonjhar districts, which adversely affect the lives of the jumbos.
The BJP leader also demanded that the recommendations made by the Shah Commission should also be implemented to avoid irregularities in Odisha’s mining sector.