The Odisha Pradesh Congress Committee (OPCC) on Tuesday demanded the resignation of Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik on moral grounds as the CBI has initiated a probe into the controversial deal between the Odisha Mining Corporation (OMC) and Delhi-based Sainik Mining and Allied Services Limited (SMASL).
Addressing mediapersons here, former speaker and member of the OPCC media cell Sarat Kumar Kar, OPCC general secretary Arjya Kumar Gyanendra and media cell convenor Narendra Mishra said that Additional Solicitor General S Luthra, appearing on behalf of the CBI, has informed the Supreme Court on Monday about the probe.
Both companies had formed a joint venture named Kalinga Coal Mining (Private) Ltd for mining coal from Utkal ‘D’ block in Angul district, allotted to the OMC, with an estimated coal reserve of 138 million tonnes.
The Supreme Court had admitted a PIL on October 15 challenging the joint venture deal. The apex court, while admitting the PIL, had issued notices to the Centre, the state government and the CBI to reply. The Congress leaders alleged that the Centre had alloted the coal block to the OMC in January 2004. But the OMC had floated the joint venture controlling 74 per cent shares, to SMASL. This allegedly violated the Coal Mines (Nationalisation) Act-1973.
As the matter came up for hearing on Monday, Luthra apprised the court that the matter has already been taken up by the CBI, Congress leaders said.
The additional solicitor general had also informed the Supreme Court that the Centre had sent a written notification to the state government that the deal was illegal, the Congress leaders said and added that in spite of this the state government went ahead with the deal.
They said that as the CBI has started a probe into the matter, after which the state government hurriedly cancelled the deal, the chief minister should immediately resign on moral grounds.