CM smells nexus between Centre, mines owners

Bhubaneswar: Suspecting a "nexus" between rich mine owners and the UPA government at the Centre, Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik on Tuesday asked Congress MLAs to stop "shedding crocodile tears" over welfare of the state.

Patnaik said this in the Assembly after the state cabinet resolved to move the Centre to levy mineral resources rent tax on iron ore at 50 per cent of the surplus rent.

The tax collected from mine owners should be spent for improving social and physical infrastructure, strengthen welfare measures besides improving the livelihood of people in the mining areas, Patnaik said in a suo motu statement.

Stating that he had been repeatedly demanding imposition of mineral resources rent tax on mine owners, Patnaik said he had raised the issue at the National Integration Council meeting on September 10 and National Development Council meeting on October 22.

"My requests to the Centre to revise the royalty on minerals have also failed to evoke timely and appropriate response," Patnaik said adding he did not understand why the central government was not responding to the state`s demand.

Patnaik said though he had written many letters to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh demanding imposition of mineral resource rent tax to help the state for welfare of people, it was not considered.

"After all, tax we are asking for is from mine owners and not a contribution from the Delhi `Durbar`," Patnaik said.

"Does the central government have a soft corner for private mine owners? It would seem that these few fabulously rich people have undue influence on the central government," the CM said.

Not only does the Centre not give the state its just dues, it also seems reluctant to tax these rich mine owners, Patnaik alleged.

Without naming Congress MLAs, he said certain members of the House should stop "shedding crocodile tears" and go to their masters who rule from Delhi and demand imposition of this more justified tax for Odisha.

"It may be just possible that many honourable members of the opposition in this House do not get appointments from their bosses in the central government who are drowning in a sea of mega scams," Patnaik said.