Scrap pact with Vedanta too, Jena asks Odisha govt

Bhubaneswar: Following the cancellation of its ‘illegal’ joint venture agreement with Sainik Mining and Allied Services Ltd (SMASL) by Odisha Mining Corporation (OMC) on Monday, union minister Srikant Jena asked the state government to scrap a similar pact with Vedanta and provide bauxite to it through OMC at a concessional rate, if necessary.

“By cancelling the JV agreement signed in 2003 with the Delhi-based Sainik mining, Odisha government has accepted that the pact was illegal,” Jena, Union Minister of State for Chemicals and Fertiliser, told reporters here.

Describing the state government’s move as a panic reaction after the Central Vigilance Commission’s order for a CBI probe into all coal block allocation, Jena said now a similar agreement by OMC for bauxite ore exploration from Niyamgiri hills for Vedanta group should be cancelled.

Instead of offering captive mines, OMC should be allowed to extract bauxite ore from some other reserves where no environmental issues are involved and provide the raw material to Vedanta Aluminium Ltd for its alumina refinery at Lanjigarh, Jena, also a Congress leader, said.

If necessary, the OMC should also provide bauxite ore to Vedanta at a concessional rate, Jena said adding “no company should be allowed to have captive mines.”

A long-term agreement can be signed with Vedanta for supply of bauxite at a concessional rate,” the minister said.

In the worst case, if the private company is unable to run the refinery, the state government can keep the plant under its control and operate through OMC, he said.

Odisha Congress president Niranjan Patnaik too said the ‘hurriedly taken’ OMC decision proved irregularities in the pact and the state government was scared after the CBI probe order into all coal block allocations since 1993.

The Congress leader demanded that allocation of other coal blocks should also be cancelled.