Bhubaneswar: Terming opposition attempt to implicate two ministers in the multi-crore coal scam as "unjustified", Orissa Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik on Saturday said stringent action would be taken against persons found guilty in corruption even as Congress and BJP MLAs walked out of the assembly in protest.
"It is unjustified to try and implicate either school and mass education minister Pratap Jena or urban and housing minister Badri Narayan Patra in the vigilance case," Patnaik
said in a suo moto statement in the assebly on distribution of coal through Orissa Coperative Consumer Federation (OCCF) and the state owned Orissa Small Industries Corporation (OSIC).
Both Jena and Patra, whose resignations were being demanded by opposition MLAs since four days, had been accused of being part of coal scam. Jena and Patra headed the state owned OSIC before becoming ministers.
The assembly witnessed uproar over the issue for the fourth day in a row and the chief minister read out his statement amidst anti-government slogans by opposition MLAs.
"We walked out of the assembly opposing chief minister`s statement under section 214 of the Rules of Procedure and Conduct of Business in the Orissa Legislative Assembly," opposition chief whip Prasad Harichandan said.
Section 214 of the rule book prohibited any further discussion on the statement made by the chief minister or any minister. "Making statement under section 214 of the Rule by
chief minister ensured that no discussion on coal scam could be made in the house. Therefore, the opposition had no option but to walk out of the hosue," he said.
Angry over the chief minister`s clean chit and the state government`s bid to prevent debate on coal scam, Congress MLAs led by leader of opposition Bhupinder Singh sat
on a dharna near Mahatma Gandhi`s statue in the assembly premises.
Continuing their demand, opposition Congress announced that they would sit on dharna until two ministers resigned.
Meanwhile, appealing to the opposition members to participate in the business of the house in view of the chief minister`s reply on the issue, Speaker Pradip Kumar Amat
convened an all party meeting on the subject.
"We have not yet received any information regarding the speaker`s meeting. Therefore, we will sit on dharna to seek removal of the two ministers," said Harichandan.
While justifying his action of giving clean chit to the ministers, Patnaik said Jena was chairman of the OSIC from January 31, 2003 to May 15, 2004 while the Centre framed coal distribution policy in 2007-08. "As Jena was chairman of the OSIC much before the policy came to force, it cannot be said that he was involved in the transaction," Patnaik said.
Similarly, Patnaik said that Patra was chairman of OSIC from October 9, 2006 to March 20, 2009. "As revealed from the vigilance investigation, the file in respect of appointment of handling agent for distribution agent for distribution of coal was never put up to the then chairman," Patnaik said.
On receipt of preliminary enquiry report, the government servants alleged to have been involved in such cases have been placed under suspension, Patnaik said adding detailed departmental enquiry is being conducted by the department of cooperation and department of industries on the basis of the allegation.