MAC: Mines and Communities

Cong salvo at Naveen

Published by MAC on 2006-07-20

Cong salvo at Naveen

Statesman News Service, BHUBANESWAR

20th July 2006

The Orissa Pradesh Congress Committee today charged chief minister Mr Naveen Patnaik of colluding with Anil Agarwal to "hoodwink" and "deflect" public attention from the scandalous Vedanta - OMC bauxite deal by announcing the project for a university of international standard.

Addressing a press conference here OPCC president Mr Jayadev Jena and former union minister Mr Srikanta Jena raked up the mining issue and said that undue favour had been shown by OMC to VAL in contracting a lopsided agreement. The agreement provides valuable bauxite to Mr Anil Agarwal's company at a price of a meagre Rs 64 per ton as against the actual rates which would be around Rs 2500 per ton.

If one looks deep into the bauxite deal it will be evident that the state would lose at least three times the amount being proposed to be invested in the university, MoU for which was signed yesterday, charged the Congress leaders.

They challenged Chief Minister Mr Naveen Patnaik to debate on the issue with them on any public platform. The undue favours shown to Mr Anil Agarwal and his company, they argued, was causing huge loss to the state exchequer.

They asked why there were no tender for the bauxite in Lanjigarh and what had prevented the government from going global over such deposits. "We demand scrapping of the agreement between OMC and Vendanta for the bauxite mining at Lanjigarh and also a probe into the case.

Raising doubts over the proposed Vedanta University, the two Congress leaders said that the foreign varsity bill is in the draft stage and has not yet been put up to the cabinet. They also alleged that the area identified for the university is too close to a sanctuary. Mr Srikanta Jena recalled that in the past some hoteliers showed interest to acquire the same stretch of land but environmental issues were raised and the project was shelved.

"There has been fierce opposition to even 10 percent divestment of Nalco and here the Naveen Patnaik government is virtually divesting the entire state and all public properties", remarked Mr Srikanta Jena.

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