Coal scam: Orissa opposition demands removal of ministers

Orissa CM says state vigilance department is investigating the matter.

Bhubaneswar: The Opposition parties in Orissa demanded removal of two ministers - Badrinarayan Patra and Pratap Jena - for their alleged involvement in the coal scam.

Patra and Jena are the Ministers of Urban Development and School and Mass Education, respectively in the Biju Janata Dal (BJD) Government.

The two were chairmen of the state-owned Orissa Small Industries Corporation (OSIC), which regulates the coal distribution along with the Orissa Cooperative Consumer Federation (OCCF).

The Opposition leaders of the Congress Party and the Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) complained that they are not being allowed to voice their demands in the State Assembly.

"It is your government, your vigilance. It is not possible. You can at least demand their resignation and then an inquiry should be held. Then, in the same very session, which will last till August 07, you can complete the inquiry within 15 days also," said Congress leader Bhupinder Singh.

"If they are not at fault, you can elevate them and make them ministers again, it does not matter, but if a question has been raised, there should be an answer to that," he added.

Orissa Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik, however, defied the charges and said the state vigilance department is investigating the matter.

"I have given a statement on the floor of the House regarding the coal matter. The two ministers were not involved in this matter, and vigilance is investigating," said Patnaik.

Meanwhile, Jena defended himself by saying that he was not the Chairman of the corporation at the time of the scam.

"The allegation is from 2005 to 2009. I was the chairman many days ago in 2003-2004. To involve me in this is just a political intention, nothing more than that," said Jena.

The assembly was adjourned after the sloganeering got fierce on Saturday.

Patra and Jena are being blamed for the Rs 1.25 billion coal scam amid allegations that they facilitated diversion of subsidised coal to some fake companies during their tenure of the chairmanship of the OSIC.


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