Mining lease row hots up in Chhattisgarh

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Raipur, Oct 17 (UNI) The controversy over a mining lease to a private company is raging in Chhattisgarh with the opposition Congress lodging a police complaint against Chief Minister Raman Singh and the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party demanding similar action against the Coal Ministry for granting the lease.

Congress MLAs, headed by Leader of the Opposition in the Assembly Mahendra Karma, marched to a local police station and lodged the complaint seeking registration of a criminal case against Dr Singh and Chief Secretary Shivraj Singh for their alleged involvement in favouring M/s Pushp Steel Private Limited in allocating the lease.

However, police did not register a First Information Report. ''We have received the complaint. A case will be registered if necessary, after investigation,'' said Senior Superintendent of Police B S Maravi.

According to the complaint, the government first inked a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with the firm which, the legislators pointed out, had been set up with a paid-up capital of merely Rs 2.50 lakh. Subsequently, the regime recommended granting of the lease to the company, which did not set up its project in the stipulated time limit.

After the Congress raised the issue, the government cancelled MoU signed with 13 industrial houses -- including Pushp Steel -- on the ground that these companies did not set up projects in the time limit.

Meanwhile, BJP MLAs in a statement said that the case had to be registered against the Ministry headed by Prime Minister Manmohan Singh.

''The BJP regime only made a recommendation for granting lease of iron ore mines on the basis of the MoU, which stated that the firm would set up a steel plant in Chhattisgarh.'' But, the Ministry went a step ahead and allocated a coal block to the company sans the state government's recommendation, BJP legislators claimed.

The BJP MLAs said that the government had already cancelled the MoU with the company for not fulfilling the commitment made in the MoU. ''There is no corruption or favouritism,'' they added.

UNI

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