Noisy scenes over mining issue ahead of Shah’s Odisha visit

Bhubaneswar: The Odisha Assembly on Monday witnessed noisy scenes as Speaker Pradip Kumar Amat refused to allow a debate over the issue of illegal mining, ahead of the Justice MB Shah Commission's scheduled visit here for its fourth round of hearing on the issue.

Amat expressed inability to allow a debate on the subject due to paucity of time as a number of members wanted to participate in the Budget discussions.

"I am not accepting the adjournment notice given by Congress members as many others have expressed their desire to take part in the discussion on the Budget," Amat said.

The Opposition Congress had earlier given a notice seeking a debate on the matter.

"This is a classic case of the government avoiding debate on the mining issue in the Assembly prior to the Shah Commission's visit," alleged Congress member S S Saluja.

Saluja alleged that the son of a minister was in cahoots with major mining companies while some ruling party MLAs and BJD leaders were involved in illegal mining activities in the state.

"The government avoids a debate on the mining issue as its men are involved in scam," Saluja alleged.

The Leader of Opposition Bhupinder Singh and the Congress chief whip Prasad Harichandan also alleged that the Speaker denied permission for a debate on the mining issue, because of the Shah Commission's visit.

"We have been demanding a CBI probe into the mining scam ever since it came to light in 2009", they said.

Meanwhile, according to the director of mines Deepak Mohanty, the Commission's team is scheduled to reach here today while its chairman, Justice MB Shah, will come tomorrow. The hearing is scheduled on February 27.

The state government, according to Mohanty, has already issued letters to certain mining companies seeking their stand on some issues as desired by the Commission.

The Commission, which was supposed to complete its first report on Odisha's mining activities by January, extended the date after the state government and the mines owners urged Justice Shah to give them a final hearing before finalisation of the report.

The last round of hearing by the Commission is likely to be stormy as both the state government and mines owners have hired eminent lawyers from the Supreme Court to plead their cases.