Bhubaneswar, Oct 18:
Hours after news broke of the CBI mulling over questioning Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik in connection with the allocation of the Talabira II coal block to the Aditya Birla group company Hindalco, the Chief Minister said the recommendation was made ‘keeping the best interest of the state in mind’. But information in possession of OST suggests that it was not state interest but his own interests and that of his party that prompted the BJD boss to bat for Hindalco.
The BJD had received a heavy amount as donation towards its election funds just before and after the 2009 elections from the industrial house. According to information received from reliable sources, a charitable trust run by the Aditya Birla Group (Proprietors of Hindalco) had paid BJD about Rs 7.5 crores. The amount was deposited in BJD’s bank account through three HDFC Bank cheques.
Informed sources said the CBI was probing whether any other political party in the state had received any such heavy funding and also if it was payback by the company for some undue favour shown earlier to the group by the Naveen Patnaik government.
This is not the only instance of the government going out of the way to help the Birla group company. It also gave its consent last month to raise the production capacity of an Aditya Birla Group managed iron ore mines from 1.5 million tonnes to 4 million tonnes in contravention of its own decision to put a halt to capacity increase of all mines after the mining scam came to light. The government had decided not to grant any proposal seeking capacity expansion of mines.
It is, however, not yet clear if CBI would also probe this angle.