Centre conspiring to restrict Orissa's mining right- Naveen

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Bhubaneswar, Feb 15 (UNI) Orissa Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik today alleged the Union government was conspiring at the behest of mining lobby to severely restrict the rights of the state government to allot mines on the principle of value addition.

Replying to the motion on the thanks giving of Governor M C Bhandare's address to the Assembly, Mr Patnaik said the Centre had had tried to restrict the rights of the Orissa government to allot mines on the principle of the value addition.

It was because Orissa leads in advocating the principle of value addition along with the Chief Ministers of five states, the Centre, has not been able to implement the policy which would adversely affect the interest of the state, he said.

Mr Patnaik claimed that his government has been able to attract investment in many sectors amounting to nearly Rs 4 lakh crore and the biggest foreign direct investment to the state due to a change in the policy of value addition of minerals.

The previous Congress government, he said, had granted 116 mining leases during 1995-2000 to different individuals and all these mine owners have now hugely benefited from the favourable market condition in minerals.

Referring to the leader of opposition J B Pattnaik's suggestion that all the mines should be reserved for Orissa Mining Corporation (OMC), the Chief Minister questioned what prevented the previous government for adopting such a policy during 1995-2000 and said out of 116 mining leases granted in that period the OMC has just got one.

He also flayed the J B Pattnaik's slogan of thousand industries in thousand days. The slogan was meant to create a wave of industrialisation but everybody knew what was the outcome of the slogan, Mr Patnaik said adding that what was once a mere slogan of an earlier government has indeed become a reality now.

The Chief Minister alleged that the Leader of Opposition had tried to mislead the House by raising a bogey of irrigation versus industries in the matter of water being used by the industries from the Mahanadi river system.

He said prior to 2000, as many as 14 industries were granted permission to draw water from the Mahanadi system but after 2001 only 11 industries have drawn water form the system.

The Chief Minister made it clear in the house that his government had come out with a clear water policy envisaging that while allocating water from a project, agriculture would take precedence over the industries.

In other words, water will be allocated for industries only after meeting the full requirement of irrigations, Mr Patnaik said and told the members of the house that the government had allocated only 7 per cent of the water to the industries after taking into account all MoUs with the industries when an expert committee had come out with a recommendation that 10 per cent of water from Hirakud reservoir could be set apart for industries.

On the use of water for the mega steel project by POSCO, the Chief Minister said the leader of opposition has tried to scare the farmers of coastal Orissa by saying that no water would be available for the farmers once the POSCO plant comes up.

He made it clear that the requirement of water for POSCO would be only 110Mcm/per annum which was just one per cent of the average non-monsoon flow at Naraj where the water utilisation for irrigation was 20 pert cent of the non monsoon flow.

UNI DP PC MSJ GC2321

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