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Divided House debates Nalco divestment

Published: 20th March 2013 12:09 PM  |   Last Updated: 20th March 2013 12:09 PM   |  A+A-

Under fire from the Opposition political parties over dowry torture case against former minister Raghunath Mohanty and rape and murder of a 16-year old dalit girl in Dhenkanal district, the Biju Janata Dal (BJD) on Monday tried to turn the table on the Congress in the Assembly by demanding a unanimous resolution should be passed against  disinvestment of public sector undertaking Nalco.

Congress and BJD members traded charges over the issue. While the BJD criticised the UPA for its insistence on disinvestment of Nalco, the Congress members alleged that the process was started when the NDA was in power at the Centre. Raising the issue during the zero hour, Deputy Government Chief Whip Sanjay Dasburma said Nalco, a Navaranta company, is running on profit since its inception. The profit is likely to go up once the expansion programme is completed, he said and condemned the anti-Odisha attitude of the Centre.

Nalco as a PSU has contributed to the industrial development of the State in a major way and by allowing for its disinvestment, the Centre is trying to privatise it, Dasburma said and demanded a resolution. Former finance minister Prafulla Chandra Ghadei also strongly opposed the disinvestment plan  and said it would affect the economy of the State. The State Government had allotted around 800 acres of land for the PSU and also granted the required mining lease for the plant to run smoothly, he said.

Supporting the demand for a unanimous resolution, Amar Prasad Satpathy, Ranendra Pratap Swain and Pradeep Maharathy (all BJD) said the process should be stopped forthwith as interest of Odisha is linked with Nalco’s future.

Countering the BJD members, Congress Chief Whip Prasad Harichandan said Nalco project was conceived by Indira Gandhi while it was dedicated to the nation by Rajiv Gandhi. But the disinvestment proposal was first floated by the NDA in which Naveen Patnaik was a minister, he said and added that the OPCC also strongly opposes Nalco disinvestment. Stating that Congress always supports industrialisation in State, Opposition leader Bhupinder Singh demanded that the House should be adjourned on the issue and Congress is prepared for a special debate on it.

The sale of 12.5 per cent stake or 31.31 crore shares of Nalco is expected to fetch around ` 1,400 crore to the Central exchequer at the current market price.

The government currently holds 87.15 per cent stake in Nalco and post disinvestment, it will come down to 75 per cent. The Centre on Friday raked in over ` 620 crore through sale of its six per cent stake in Nalco.

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