New Delhi, Mar 4 (ANI): The Odisha Pradesh Congress Committee on Thursday charged the Naveen Patnaik-led government in Orissa of plundering the state's mineral wealth to the tune of over Rupees three-lakh crores.
Naba Kishore Das, the General Secretary of the Odisha Pradesh Congress Committee, said, "The Naveen Patnaik Government has misused the funds and we demand a Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) inquiry into the alleged scam.
Das, who is also an MLA from Jharsuguda also wrote a letter to Congress President Sonia Gandhi and later met her in this regard.
"We briefed her on the entire issue. Sonia Gandhi has said that she would look into the matter with some seriousness," he added.
Further lashing out at the Patnaik Government, Das said mine owners have been using Fake Transit Passes on a large scale and transporting minerals worth thousands of crores from Orissa.
"The State Government has permitted traders to print their own Transit Passes, resulting a massive losses to the Government by unethical use of such Transit Passes," he added.
"Despite powers under Section 23C of amended Mines and Minerals Development and Regulation (MMDR) Act 1957, the State Government has not taken steps to check illegal mining, illegal transportation and storage of minerals, claimed Das adding that government inaction has led to mineral extraction way beyond permitted quantities.
Das said despite the State Government signing Memorandum of Understandings (MoUs) with big private firms, Orissa is still poor and locals experience huge difficulties due to the export of iron ore fines from Keonjhar and Sundargarh Districts.
"Out of the total 621 mines in Orissa, the lease for around 200 mines are over, but still they are run," he claimed.
Durjyodhan Gerdia, who is an MLA from Rengali, said, "We demand strict action against all ministers in the Naveen Patnaik Government and ask for stringent steps to be taken against all perpetrators involved in the scam."
Orissa holds a prominent place in mineral resources with large deposits of major and miner minerals and the receipts from it constitute the largest source of non-tax revenue of the state. By mit Shankar (ANI)