Bhubaneswar, Oct 20:
Union Minister and Congress leader Srikant Jena today demanded a CBI probe into Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik’s recommendation for bauxite mines for the Aditya Birla Group.
Patnaik has already come under the scanner for writing to the Centre for allocation of coal blocks to Hindalco.
“While Patnaik’s letter to the Prime Minister in 2005 for allocation of Talabira-II coal block in Odisha to Hindalco is already under CBI scanner, his recommendation for bauxite mines in favour of the company should also be probed by the investigating agency,” Jena said here.
Ridiculing Patnaik and other Odisha ministers for defending the act of recommending Hindalco’s case to the Centre, the Union Chemicals and Fertilisers minister said, “Now the entire gamut involving both coal blocks and bauxite mines must be investigated to find out the role of the Chief Minister.”
Responding to BJD’s demand seeking an apology from him for criticising Patnaik over the coal blocks row, Jena said let there be a thorough CBI investigation into the whole episode and if the Chief Minister comes out clean, he would apologise.
The Union Minister wondered whether it was proper to recommend a coal block in favour of Hindalco bypassing public sector companies.
The Congress leader stressed that he would travel across Odisha and explain under what circumstances the Chief Minister had recommended the coal block in favour of Hindalco overriding the needs of PSUs. Patnaik’s action was being questioned as he had recommended Hindalco’s case even after rejection by the screening committee, he said.
Patnaik’s argument that the final decision on allocation of the coal block was taken only by the Centre was also unacceptable as under the MMDR Act, the Chief Minister’s recommendation cannot be overruled, Jena claimed.
Even the Prime Minister’s Office has clarified that under the federal framework of sharing mining rights as provided under the Act, both the Centre and state governments need to concur, before an allottee is granted a mining lease, he said, adding, the coal block was allocated to Hindalco purely on the basis of Patnaik’s recommendation. (PTI)