Crores of favour to Vedanta

Bhubaneswar: The very name Vedanta and controversy are most likely poor cousins. Ever since the multi-national signed several MOUs with the state government, not a single project of the company has been above controversy, be that Vedanta University at Puri or for that matter its Lanjigarh aluminium plant.

A fresh controversy has surfaced over its on-going aluminium plant at Jharsuguda in Sundergarh district. Ther echoes of the controversy were heard in the assembly today when the leader of opposition and Congress member Bhupinder Singh wanted clarification regarding a letter by the executive engineer, Main Dam division,Burla to the additional secretary of the water resources department to waive water cess to the tune of Rs 9 crore.

The controversial letter of the executive engineer written on November 18 pointed out that the company woed Rs. 9 crore to the water resources towards water tax pending since August 2009. Most surprisingly, the letter mentioned that the additional secretary had over given an oral instruction over phone to the executive engineer to waive the cess running into crores.

Said Rabindra Kumar Panda, executive engineer, the additional secretary had asked me to consider the waiver to Verdanta and acordingly I wrote tthe letter." But questioned activist, Ranjan Panda, convener of the NGO, Water Initiatives Odisha,"Can someone instruct over phone to waive tax of such huge amounts?"

After the letter surfaced, the leader of opposition today raised the question during the question hour in state assembly. Making a scathing attack on the government the Congres member wanted to know from the Speaker how could the government show crores of favour to the controversial company while farmers were hardly able to get water to their fields. Now that the letter has surfaced in the most surprising manner, the Vedantas might not be abkle to get the benefits.