Bhubaneswar: Blaming Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik for revenue loss of about Rs 58,000 crore due to alleged illegal mining, Congress on Saturday demanded a CBI probe to ascertain exact nature and volume of irregularities. "Since the chief minister considers himself and his government transparent and honest, he should be ready for a CBI probe, Odisha Pradesh Congress Committee President Niranjan Patnaik said.
He said not only legal lease holders were allowed to produce iron ore beyond the approved mining plan, but mining mafia and thieves were also allowed to loot non-operational mines. In addition, areas not covered by mining lease were mined by criminals and sold, he alleged, claiming that though the state government admitted to revenue loss of about Rs 58,000 crore, the actual loss should be more than 250,000 crore.
The Congress leader's statement came after the state government imposed a fine of about Rs 58,000 crore on 27 mines for extracting minerals beyond the approved mining plan. "By imposing nearly Rs 58,000 crore fine on mines for extraction of excess iron ore than the approved plan in last ten years, Odisha government has admitted occurrence of irregularities," Patnaik said.
"Why was the state government sleeping for ten years despite the huge revenue loss loss to the exchequer? Now the real face of the ruling BJD is exposed," Patnaik asked and said the chief minister is fully responsible for it. Accusing the BJD government of trying to hoodwink Justice MB Shah Commission probing the mining scam, the OPCC chief alleged that during the last couple of months the mining department has issued circulars, policy guidelines, closure notices and formed a committee to 'mislead' the panel. On allegations against him and his relatives, Patnaik said "let the CBI first probe charges levelled against us."