Logjam in Assembly over ‘Aahar’, power tariff issues

Bhubaneswar: The Odisha assembly was today stalled for the third consecutive day with opposition Congress and BJP intensifying their agitations demanding roll back of the power tariff hike while ruling BJD also created noise alleging that both the opposition parties have joined hands in Mahanadi Coalfields Ltd’s (MCL) decision of not to be sponsor of the state government’s ‘Aahar’ scheme.

Like two previous days, the opposition members rushed to the Well of the House holding banners and shouting anti- government slogans as the Question Hour began in the assembly.

Unable to run the proceeding Speaker Niranjan Pujari adjourned the House till 12.50 pm.

Meanwhile, ruling BJD members also displayed placards alleging that a central leader from Odisha put pressure on the Central PSU not to be the sponsor of the scheme. The particular leader has pressurised another PSU-Nalco to cancel the agreement with the State over the food scheme, they alleged.

The scheme is to provide cooked food at the rate of Rs 5 a meal to urban poor from April 1. The state government had earlier asked the MCL to bear financial burden of Aahar scheme in Sambalpur town.

The ruling party MLAs also staged a dharna under the statue of Mahatma Gandhi on the premises of Assembly protesting against MCL?s decision.

When the House reassembled at 12.50, the opposition members were already in the Well and demanded adjournment of the House till the state government announced roll back of the power tariff. Even as din continued in the House, Pujari allowed discussion on the demand of the Home and General Administration department.

chief minister Naveen Patnaik, who is charge of both the departments moved the notice and the demands were passed without participation of the opposition members.

In his ruling, the Speaker said, “As the Power minister and department secretary are absent so no discussion was held on tariff hike issue. A meeting over the problem will be held on March 30.”

Meanwhile, intensifying its agitation, the Odisha unit of the BJP today staged a dharna in front of the Raj Bhawan demanding the rollback of the decision announced on Monday.

“We are here to give vent to the public anger on the issue. Gridco has outstanding dues of pending on Reliance towards bulk power purchase. Instead of recovering it from the defaulters, why is the government passing it on to the consumers? The government should withdraw the power tariff hike with immediate effect or else the agitation will be intensified,” senior BJP leader Bhrugu Buxipatra said.

“The decision to hike the power tariff is unjustified.

The decision would put extra burden on the power consumers.

The dues payable to NTPC by the GRIDCO are being passed on to the consumers, which is not acceptable. The Congress party would continue its agitation till government reverses its decision on power tariff hike,” OPCC President Prasad Harichandan said.

The Odisha Power Consumers’ Federation has called for a state-wide bandh on March 31 in protest against power tariff hike.