Oram challenges Odisha minister on mine mafia

Bhubaneswar: Union Tribal Affairs Minister Jual Oram today challenged that he would quit politics if his claim on illegal stacking of huge quantity of iron ore by mafia at the Rengra Railway siding and nearby areas in Sundergarh district, was proved wrong.

Oram said this while responding to Odisha’s Steel and Mines Minister Prafulla Mallick’s statement that no illegality was made at the railway siding. Mallick did not accept Oram’s claim that mines mafia secretly buried iron ore in railway siding and nearby areas.

The Odisha minister’s statement was based on the initial report of the Koida Deputy Director of Mines (DDM) who said that the stocks were not illegal and kept within the authorised area of the siding. The DDM justified his claim stating that they have records in this regard.

“I do not accept Mallick’s statement. I challenge him to prove me wrong. I will quit politics if my claim is untrue.

Let us visit the area along with media and dig the area,” an angry Oram told reporters here.

“How can the minister say that there is no illegality when the investigation is incomplete? How the minister trusts an officer without going into details,” the Union Tribal Affairs Minister said.

Oram after being informed about illegal stacking of mineral allegedly by mafia, had yesterday took up the matter with Union Mines Minister Narendra Singh Tomar. In a letter to Tomar, Tribal Affairs Minister sought a probe into the alleged illegal mining in Sundergarh district.

“You are requested… to find out the legality of the transaction before it is suppressed by interested mining mafias operating in the area in collusion with the state mining officials as reported in the Justice M B Shah enquiry report earlier,” Oram wrote to Tomar in a letter, a copy of which was released to press.

Oram said in the letter that the quantity of iron ore could be 30,000 to 40,000 MT as per local eyewitnesses.

Meanwhile, Sundergarh District Collector Bhupinder Singh Poonia said investigation into the matter was being carried out. “Action will be taken as per the law,” the collector said.