Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Bhubaneswar, Feb 18:
Members cutting across party lines expressed concern over the financial losses and irregularities in the Badamba Sugar Mill in Cuttack district and Bijayananda Sugar Mill in Balangir district during Question Hour in the Odisha Assembly on Wednesday.
In his reply, Cooperation Minister Damodar Rout expressed his helplessness saying Balaji Sugar Mill, which runs the Badamba Sugar Mill, had taken shelter in the courts. He admitted tha he was unaware of the findings of the probe done by the Crime Branch into the alleged financial irregularities committed by the company.
BJD MLA from Athagarh Ranendra Pratap Swain had alleged that the government has remained a mute spectator while Balaji Sugar Mill defrauded the staff and government of hundreds of crores. .
Leader of the Opposition and senior Congress leader Narasingh Mishra and BJP state unit president K V Singhdeo wanted to know what action has been taken by the government with regard to the two sugar mills.
“I will like to know the details of the steps taken. At what stage it is? How long it’s likely to take for functioning of this mill? I would also further like to know from the honourable minister whether he had made certain recommendations for opening of this closed sugar mill and whether his recommendations have been accepted, pending or rejected and if it is pending, before whom it is pending? What further step is he going to take for re-establishment or re-functioning of the mill in the district of Balangir?” asked Mishra raising a supplementary.
“Government is unaware and is pretending to be unaware, then what can be done? People in Badamba have died. Badamba legislator and I have been fighting for the last ten years. One thing he has admitted is that it’s a fraud company and there are none to get it booked. Farmers are dying and it’s not a matter of a single year or two; it’s now five years. In July 2013, the Supreme Court while disposing of five Special Leave Petitions (SLPs), had given a peremptory order categorically to see that the matter is settled within three months. Now again if the advocates are sleeping pretending to be unaware, then whom will we complain before?” asked Ranendra Pratap Swain while raising a supplementary. Swain sought protection from the Chair for the suffering farmers.
“The matter is subjudice in the High Court. In the past, several actions have been taken against Balaji Sugar Mill. The matter was handed over to the Crime Branch for probe. I have no knowledge whether the Crime Branch people have successfully probed the matter. The government had gone to the Supreme Court in the matter. An agreement was reached between them for an amount of Rs 8,28,50,000 initially. It was supposed to pay Rs one crore in the first year split in four instalments and the rest amount in ten years. The company didn’t pay that amount. We filed a case against it in the High Court. Finally, the government had to go to the Supreme Court. The apex court, after hearing both sides, directed the High Court to adjudicate the matter. The matter is currently pending in the High Court,” said Cooperation Minister Rout in the House.