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Odisha government unduly favouring steel company: Congress

Posted on Jul 26 2014 | IANS

Bhubaneswar, July 26 : The opposition Congress Saturday accused the Odisha government of showing undue favour to steel producer Jindal Steel and Power Ltd (JSPL).

Senior Congress leader and leader of the opposition in the assembly Narasingh Mishra said the government originally allotted Thakurani mines in the state's Keonjhar district to Sarada Mines but then JSPL became its sole beneficiary.

JSPL is not only getting the iron ore from this mine at a very low price without having necessary permissions, but it is also trying to export the extracted ore to Chhattisgarh in contravention of law, Mishra told reporters.

It is in total violation of the Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Act, he added.

The Congressman also raised the issue in the assembly Saturday through a special mention.

While there can be no crusher unit within a 40-km radius of the mines lease area, the company has set up one very close to the mines, he said.

Mishra said a high-level official committee, led by the steel and mines department secretary, had earlier found irregularities in Thakurani mines and advised action.

"Although the then state steel and mines minister Raghunath Mohanty said in the assembly three years ago that action was being taken, nothing has been done," he told IANS.

"There is no doubt the state government has unduly favoured JSPL," Mishra said. Alleging a Rs.10,000-crore scam, he said a CBI inquiry must be ordered to unravel the truth and punish those who are responsible.

He said the Justice M.B. Shah Commission of Inquiry which is probing illegal mining in several states, during its visit to Odisha, had also found many irregularities in the operations of the Thakurani mines.

A senior JSPL official who did wish to be named said JSPL's procurement of iron ore and transport of the same has been completely legal at all times.

"JSPL has not received any notice from any government authority with regard to any alleged illegality," he told IANS.

"JSPL has filed a writ petition against the refusal of the director of mines to transport the legally procured material. The matter is sub-judice. Therefore, JSPL does not wish to make any further comments in the matter," he said.

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