BHUBANESWAR: Demanding a CBI probe into an alleged deal between a mining firm and and a private steel company over an iron ore mine, Congress today accused Odisha government of going soft towards offence like violation of Rule-37 of Mineral Concession Rules-1960.
The issue was raised by leader of opposition and Congress stalwart Narasingha Mishra in the assembly through a Special Mention during zero hours.
"I demand a CBI probe into a deal between two companies as neither the state government nor the Centre takes any action though Rs 10,000 crore is involved in it," Mishra said asking Odisha government to reply within 48 hours as per the rules of business of Odisha Assembly.
Stating that a mining firm was leased out to a company, Mishra alleged that in violation of the Rule-37 of Mineral Concession Rules-1960, the mines owner has sold its entire run of mine (ROM) produce to a steel company without any written agreement.
He pointed out that Rule-37 of the MC Rules, 1960 mandates that a lessee cannot transfer by any means its rights to other party. In order to transfer, the mines owner has to take written permission from either the state government or the central government. But, in this case no such thing happened, therefore making the deal illegal, said Mishra, an advocate by profession.
Also, the iron ore sale by the lessee was at unacceptably low rates compared to open market prices, Mishra claimed adding it was sold at Rs 400 per ton as against the market rate of Rs 4,000 per ton.
Besides violation of Rule-37, Mishra said the deal also amounts to violation of Odisha Mineral Theft Rule- 2007.
They have set up some crusher units in the mines area in violation of the Mineral Theft Rule, he claimed.
Accusing the state government of adopting a soft attitude towards the mines owner and the steel company, Mishra claimed iron ore worth Rs 10,000 crore was still dumped at the Thakurani Mines site and plans are afoot to shift part of it to Chhattishgarh and use some in Odisha also.
An internal verification by state's steel and mines department also found irregularity in the mines, but no action was taken, Mishra said.
As the state government has stopped lifting of the iron ore dumped at the site, the steel company has moved the court, Mishra said adding the state government has not appointed a good lawyer to raise its point.
"When the state spends Rs 25 lakh per date towards advocate fee to avoid CBI probe into the mining scam, it does not appoint a good lawyer to defend its action of putting restriction on lifting of ore from Thakurani mines," he claimed.
Steel and mines minister Prafulla Kumar Mallick said outside the assembly that the state government would present its reply on the issue raised by the Leader of Opposition in the House.