BHUBANESWAR: With the Supreme Court appointed Central Empowered Committee (CEC) indicting the State Government over illegal mining, the Opposition on Friday stepped up attack on Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik demanding his immediate resignation and a CBI probe into the mining scam.
“It is high time he resigns and allows impartial investigation into the scam by CBI to put his clean image to test,” Leader of the Opposition Narsingh Mishra said.
An impartial investigation into the scam is not possible with Naveen continuing as the Chief Minister, Mishra said while alleging that there is prima facie evidence of his complicity in the irregularities as pointed out in the inquiry report submitted by the CEC to the Supreme Court.
Referring to the CEC report, Mishra alleged that renewal of Thakurani B iron ore mines in favour of SL and ML Sarada with effect from August 14, 2001 was in clear violation of MMDR Act, 1957 and MCR, 1960. The renewal of mining lease is void and is of no effect, Mishra said quoting the CEC and alleged that the renewal was approved by the then Minister for Steel and Mines AU Singhdeo and Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik. This amounts to showing undue favour to a mine owner and therefore punishable under the Prevention of Corruption Act, he said.
Mishra alleged that the report has quoted the noting of the then Chief Secretary in the file relating to the transfer of the mining lease from the partnership firm comprising members of the Sarada family to a private limited company. Though the Chief Secretary questioned the authenticity of such a transfer and asked in the file, “would this not amount to a fraud ?”, the transfer was permitted.
“The then Steel and Mines Minister and Chief Minister overruled the Chief Secretary and allowed the transfer with the intention of showing favour to a mine owner,” he said.
Alleging that the State is now being run by three Ps, Mishra demanded that persons who were responsible for loss of thousands of crores of rupees to the state exchequer because of the mining scam should be punished.
Ministers under the shadow of corruption were dropped from the council of ministers by Naveen, Mishra said and asked should the Chief Minister not resign now in the light of the report of the Central Empowered Committee indicting the State Government.