Govt connivance in Uliburu mining, alleges Congress

Bhubaneswar: The State Congress on Monday alleged that there was ruling party BJD’s connivance in the Uliburu mining scam in Keonjhar district for which the State exchequer lost more than Rs 2000 crore.
"The loot of minerals in Uliburu reserve forest area definitely happened in complete knowledge of the State Government. How the officials in the area could not get a hint about the activities for five years which was in close proximity to the Joda DDM office," said Odisha Pradesh Congress Committee chief Jayadev Jena.
Training guns on BJD, Jena said, “It is also surprising how the Government collected royalty and issued transit passes to the lessee. We demand a clarification from the Government on this.”
The PCC chief, who had earlier demanded a CBI inquiry into the multi-crore mining scam following the State government’s Rs 58,000 crore penalty on 27 mining operators, reiterated a similar demand this time too.
“It is very much clear that a number of ministers including CM Naveen Patnaik are involved in the scam and the CM must order for a CBI enquiry withdrawing the vigilance probe,” stated Jena.
He also urged the Government not to renew MoU with the lessee who is involved in excess mining.
On the other hand, rebutting charges of the Opposition State Forest and Environment minister Bijayshree Routray said, "Neither the CM nor the forest and environment minister are directly linked with the mining activities. Local officials must determine the demarcation of any such mining area and the boundary of mines.  It is baseless to drag the CM or any other minister into the case. If Jena feels CBI enquiry, he must approach the Centre.”
ON Monday, a team of 25 vigilance sleuths vetted the mining related documents at the office of Joda deputy director of mines and Bhubaneswar.
It was reported that in Uliburu forest area BK Mohanty Mines had allegedly excavated iron ores in 35 hectares of which 6 hectare falls under reserve forest. The remaining 29 hectares are owned by the revenue department. The company is also accused of illegally raising and exporting iron ore worth Rs 1,800 crore up to 2009.