Mines Min slams Patnaik for opposing Nalco disinvestment

Bhubaneswar: Slamming Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik for opposing disinvestment of Nalco, Union Mines Minister Dinsha Patel on Wednesday said there was a move to offload 30 per cent stake in the aluminium giant when Patnaik was at the Centre.

The government, now is discussing selling off only 12.5 per cent stake.

"When Naveen Patnaik was Union Mines minister, there was a move by the then NDA government for 30 per cent disinvestment in Nalco. However, now discussions are on for divesting only 12.5 per cent in the Navaratna PSU," Patel told reporters here.

Nalco was performing very well, Patel said, adding that at present the government stake in the aluminium major stood at 87.5 per cent and the government will continue to have majority holding.

The matter relating to proposed disinvestment of Nalco has now been referred to a Group of Ministers (GoM) which would take a final call on the issue, he said.

The minister, who visited Nalco's smelter and power plant at Angul during his two-day Odisha visit, said he met a cross section of company's employees and officers at Angul on Tuesday and in Bhubaneswar on Wednesday.

There was no opposition from Nalco employees to proposed disinvestment in the company, Patel claimed.

On closure of Nalco's bauxite mines at Panchpatmali in Koraput district for some time due to lease expiry, Arun Kumar, Joint Secretary in the Mines Ministry, said Nalco had approached 22 months in advance but due to disturbed conditions in Koraput, environment and forest clearances could not be obtained in time.

However, there was no loss as the refinery functioned with adequate bauxite stocks, Kumar said.

At the same time, the ministry has sought a report from Nalco on the delay in the process for getting lease renewed.

The company would give a report, he said, adding that if anyone is found responsible action would be taken.

Asked about fall in the aluminium major's profit, Nalco CMD Anshuman Das said that although there was a slump in the second quarter of current fiscal due to dull international markets, profits would register substantial increase during the third quarter.

On Nalco's 3rd phase expansion plan, Das said funds would not pose a problem as the company has Rs 5,000 crore cash reserve.