Opposition walk-out in Orissa assembly over mining scam

Blaming the Orissa government for its failure to contain illegal mining activities, opposition Congress and BJP on Wednesday walked out of the Assembly in protest.

Last Updated: Dec 02, 2010, 00:02 AM IST

Bhubaneswar: Blaming the Orissa government
for its failure to contain illegal mining activities,
opposition Congress and BJP on Wednesday walked out of the Assembly
in protest.

The opposition chief whip Prasad Harichandan, while
participating in the debate on the first supplementary grant
of steel and mines and industries departments, accused Steel
and Mines and Industries minister Raghunath Mohanty of not
keeping promises made earlier.
"The state government had earlier promised to
formulate a mining policy to check illegal mining activities.
But nothing has been done in this regard," Harichandan
claimed, adding that illegal mining activities were still
going on in parts of the state.

Quoting a High Court judgement on Geomin case,
Harichandan claimed that the state`s mining activities was
in "mess" due to lack of will on part of the state government.

Mohanty, however, turned down the opposition demand of
a CBI probe into the alleged scam and instead claimed that the
state government had taken several steps to contain mineral
theft from mines.

"As the minister has utterly failed to reply our
specific questions on steps taken to check illegal mining
activities, we thereafter walked out of the house," leader of
opposition of Congress Bhupinder Singh told reporters later
outside the house.
In his reply Mohanty further asserted that his
government had suspended mining activities in 264 mines, while
trading license in 594 instances had been cancelled.

The minister said besides framing charges against
three mine owners in the scam, the vigilance department had
registered cases against 20 officials for their alleged
involvement in illegal activities.

"The state police and vigilance had identified 420
number of cases of illegal mining activities and seized 120
vehicles. A penalty of Rs 1,382.18 lakh were collected from
illegal mining activities," the minister said.

Highlighting achievement in steel sector, the minister
said of the 50 MoU signing companies, 29 had started partial
production. "The state is now producing 7.79 mtpa steel and
6.24 mtpa sponge iron," he said, adding that the state would
produce 77.16 million tons of steel if all the MoUs were
implemented.

The state government was hopeful of coming up of
projects proposed by Posco, Vedanta, Jindal and Tata Steel,
all facing difficulties in implementing projects, he said.

PTI