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CM orders probe into mining scam

Pushed against the wall by the Opposition onslaught over illegal manganese mining in Keonjhar district, chief minister Naveen
Patnaik has ordered a vigilance inquiry into the alleged mining scam
involving Ram Bahadur Thakur Limited (RBTL).

The decision came in the face of BJP's demand for a CBI probe into the illegal mining allegedly being done by the private company in connivance with government officials.

BJP had earlier alleged that the private company was mining the area, although the state government had not granted it lease. The party had alleged in the Assembly that the company had even executed a power of attorney in favour of one Shakti Ranjan Das, violating the law.

After making much hue and cry over the issue in Assembly on Friday, the Opposition BJP as well as Congress have shown their intent to nail down the Naveen Patnaik dispensation over the rampant illegal mining being done in Keonjhar district.

While a BJP team led by its legislature party leader K V Singhdeo had visited the mining areas in Joda on Saturday, a delegation from Congress headed by leader of Opposition Bhupinder Singh toured the area to assess the ground realities.

Government officials said the chief minister has directed anti-corruption sleuths to find out whether any illegal mining was taking place in the area proposed to be leased to Ram Bahadur Thakur Limited or not, and, if so, who were involved in the illegal activity. The vigilance wing has also been asked to inquire the role of the director, mines, and other officers of the directorate of mines; and the authenticity of the power of attorney granted to Shakti Ranjan Das by RBTL.

Sources in the chief minister's office informed that the state government had in 1994 recommended to the Centre for grant of mining lease over 36 hectare in favour of RBTL and the latter had given its nod two years later. But the state government had thereafter not gone ahead with grant of mining lease to the company.

BJP, however, expressed its displeasure over the government ordering a vigilance probe instead of CBI inquiry into the Rs 4000 crore mining scam. "The state government is trying to suppress the scam by rejecting our demand. Vigilance is a tool of the state government, CBI investigation should be ordered to bring out the truth," said state BJP president Suresh Pujari.

Source: TOI


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