TDP stages noisy protest over Rs 10,900 cr 'mining scam'

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Hyderabad, Feb 18 (UNI) Alleging ''swindling'' of over Rs 10,900 crore following grant of mining leases to two firms in Prakasam district of Andhra Pradesh, the main Opposition Telugu Desam Party (TDP) today staged a noisy protest in the Assembly, demanding cancellation of the mining leases.

Disputing Mines Minister Sabita Indira Reddy's submission that the state's interest had been fully protected while granting mining leases to the two companies, Gimplex and Mid-west, the TDP members rushed to the Speaker's podium during Question Hour and sought a detailed discussion on the issue.

The ruling and opposition members shouted against each other after TDP Legislature Party Deputy leader T Devender Goud alleged that Rs 10,900 crore had been swindled, and demanded placing of all details regarding finalisation of mining lease tenders in the office of Speaker by the Government for scrutiny by opposition parties.

Government Chief Whip N Kirankumar Reddy alleged that the opposition was making ''baseless allegations against the Government.'' Speaker K R Suresh Reddy adjourned the House for tea break.

When the House reassembled, the TDP members continued to remain in the well of the House and shouted slogans against the Government.

The situation normalised after the Speaker assured the agitated opposition members that he would allow a detailed discussion on the issue under rule 344 later.

Denying the opposition charge that the rules had been framed to benefit the two companies, the Mines Minister said the State Mineral Development Corporation Limited would get Rs 12 crore per annum even at minimum production level.

Earlier, the Minister informed the House that the joint venture company would be permitted to export raw mineral blocks in first two years only and in the third year, 50 per cent of the raw blocks could be exported. From the fourth year onwards, the entire material had to be processed within the state by investing Rs 80 crore each by the two companies, she added.

The interest of the state had been fully protected by including a clause that on non-production of a minimum of 500 CUM per hectare per annum, the companies concerned had to pay consideration charges equivalent to seigniorage fee.

UNI SM VA ROY LPB BD1832

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