Bhubaneswar: Congress leader and former Union Minister Srikant Jena on Wednesday demanded a criminal case against Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik for failing to check mining theft and punish errant leaseholders.
He also demanded the same against all those involved in the Rs 2 lakh-crore mining scam.
“If Lalu Yadav was sent to jail for dereliction of duty, why criminal proceedings should not be initiated against Naveen Patnaik, during whose period mining scam of over Rs 2 lakh has occurred. Criminal proceeding should be initiated against Patnaik soon,” demanded Jena at a press conference here.
He too alleged that the BJP Government is also protecting mines looters in Odisha. “The BJP and the BJD were in power for 10 years. During the last elections, the BJP had promised to initiate CBI inquiry into the Odisha mining scam as per the Shah Commission recommendations if voted to power. About four years have passed, but no action has been taken by the Narendra Modi Government yet,” pointed out Jena.
He wanted that the Chief Minister should clarify as to why his Government reduced the mines penalty from Rs 60,000 crore to Rs 20, 000 crore and has now collected Rs 8,000 crore only.
“If the Central Empowered Committee, constituted by the Supreme Court, made the mining scam assessment to be of Rs 20,000 crore, the State Government could have challenged the low assessment as it has earlier served notices to collect Rs 60,000 crore from mines leaseholders for extra excavation of mines,” Jena said.
He demanded that licences of all leaseholders, who have not paid penalties, should be cancelled forthwith and the State Government declare in public its plans to spend the collected mines fine of Rs 8,000 crore.
He informed that his party would soon initiate a ‘Save Odisha’ campaign to create awareness among people against the mining illegalities committed during the BJD Government and ‘how both the BJP and the BJD are protecting mines looters’.
“I have already held a discussion with AICC president Rahul Gandhi about the mining scam in Odisha. Gandhi has assured that he would join the campaign against the Naveen Patnaik Government soon,” he said.