Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Bhubaneswar, Apr 5:
The Right to Food Campaign, a civil society, has alleged that a total of 129 companies have not only looted huge minerals under the patronage of the Odisha government, they have also defaulted water tax to the tune of Rs 6,169.73 crore during last 15 years.
Briefing newsmen here on Saturday, Pradip Pradhan, state convenor of the Right to Food Campaign said as per the information he has obtained under Right to Information (RTI) Act, these 129 companies have not deposited Water tax with the state government from 2000 to 2014.
The amount of water tax pending with some of the major companies are Odisha Hydro Power Corporation (OHPC) managed Rengali Hydro project (Rs 42,76 crore), OHPC’s Barisiput project in Koraput (Rs 221 crore), Nalco’s Damanjodi project in Koraput (Rs 48 crore), Sewa Paper Mills, Jeypore (Rs 172 crore), MCL, Brajarajnagar unit (Rs 50 crore), Orient Paper Mills (Rs 52 crore), Burla Power House (Rs 4700 crore), Reliance Industries (Rs 10 crore), Bhushan Steel (Rs 10 crore) and Tata Refractories, Belpahar (Rs 16 crore).
Pradhan also alleged that the state government, instead of realising the pending water tax from these companies, has utilised the money in the Aahar scheme.
“Though the government claims that a square meal under Aahar scheme costs Rs 5 only, the actual cost per meal is Rs 26.50. On the other hand, the government spends Rs 4.06 per meal for the primary school students under Mid-day Meal scheme while it provides Rs 5 per meal towards the morning breakfast and lunch which are prepared at the at Anganwadi centres for the children”, he added.
Claiming that the state government which has been providing 10 kg of rice to the poor families in the rural areas through the sarpanches, is not a permanent solution to starvation and food security, Pradhan urged the government to provide meal at the rate of Rs 10 to the primary school and Anganwadi children and a stipend of Rs 1500 per month to the poor and starving family by utilising the money collected as water tax from these defaulting companies.