Bhubaneswar, Sept 2
Odisha Jan Morcha (OJM) general secretary and former chairman of Bijayananda Cooperative Sugar Mills Limited (BCSML), Jagneswar Babu on Sunday strongly refuted allegations of irregularities and corruption levelled against him and threatened to move the court against the government move. He also levelled a counter charge against the ruling BJD that it had concocted false charges against him in order to defame him and tarnish his public image.
“The allegation levelled against me and my family members that we were involved in a Rs 22 crore scam during my tenure as BCSML chairman is an attempt by the ruling party to defame us and tarnish our public image. Neither I nor my family members were engaged in any financial irregularities of the BCSML nor had taken any loan in the name of any farmers and the factory’s employees. Rather, we availed of loans legally for modernization of the factory from different banks and other sources by mortgaging our properties. I will definitely take the legal route,” said Babu at a media conference here on Sunday.
Babu asserted that the status of the factory is now sound as the total loan amount of the factory stood at Rs 42 crore while the cost of the plant excluding depreciation stands at Rs 46 crore as per the valuation conducted by the National Sugar Institute.
“But by repealing the 2001 Self-Help Cooperative Act, the state government is trying to close down the factory as the new membership committee under the new law will not be formed within two months, thereby snatching away the bread and butter of 10,000 sugarcane farmers and the factory’s 350 employees,” said Babu.
As per the new law, the then management of the BCSML would reconstitute the new committee. If it fails to do so, the Cooperative Registrar will reconstitute the committee during next two months. Babu said it is impossible to reconstitute the committee under the 1962 Cooperative Act within two months. The rules of the committees are yet to be framed, he pointed out, asking the government to take over the right of the membership.
Babu, who rebelled against the BJD leadership last year along with Rajya Sabha MP Pyarimohan Mohapatra and formed OJM, was arrested by the vigilance on charges of perpetrating financial irregularities involving a loan of Rs 36.18 crore during his tenure as president of the Odisha State Cooperative Bank from 2009 to 2011 in disbursement of a loan to BCSML. He had denied the allegations, terming the arrest ‘politically motivated’ and was released on June 14 on bail.