Quit calls for Naveen over Shah panel report

Quit calls for Naveen over Shah panel report

The Congress and the BJP, the two principal opposition parties in Odisha, have demanded immediate resignation of Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik over the report of the M B Shah Commission, which had probed charges of corruption and irregularities in the mining sector in mineral-rich states in the country, including Odisha.

The Union Cabinet on Thursday discussed the important report and sent it to a Committee of Secretaries for preparation of an action-taken report, which would be submitted to Parliament along with the main investigation report.  The Shah Commission had submitted the report to the Centre last year.

In its report, the commission reportedly indicted both the Centre and the Odisha government for their failure in checking the mining mafia, who indulged in illegal mining activities in violation of environment and forest laws.

The commission also directed the state government to recover a whopping Rs 59,203 crore from the mine owners for excess mining and use it for the developmental activities in the two tribal-dominated mineral-rich districts of Keonjhar and Sundergarh, which were worst affected by the illegal mining activities.

The Odisha unit of the Congress has demanded the resignation of Patnaik, who also heads the ruling Biju Janata Dal (BJD), alleging that the state government he heads was well aware of the illegal mining activities. The party has called for a day-long hartal across the state on January 7 for fulfilment of its demand. It would be followed by a public rally in the capital Bhubaneswar in the first week of February.

The state unit of the BJP, while demanding the chief minister’s resignation, also strongly criticised the Central government for its role in the scam.

Reacting to the BJP’s criticism, state Congress leaders said the party, which had an alliance with the BJD and was part of the government till 2009, had no morale right to point fingers at the Centre.

The BJD rejected the opposition’s demand.

According to party leaders, the state government had already imposed a fine of a whopping Rs 67,900 crore on the owners of as many as 103 mines for excess mining even before the Shah Commission had submitted its report.

The government has ordered a probe into the mining scam by the vigilance department, which has already arrested mine owners as well as many officials who had helped them indulge in illegal mining.

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