2 public sector plant accused of purchasing illegally mined iron: Patnaik
Even as Anna Hazare continues with his fight against corruption, here comes yet another scam. Two public sector steel plants have been accused of purchasing illegally mined iron ore from Orissa mines, by the Orissa chief minister Naveen Patnaik.india Updated: Apr 11, 2011 19:13 IST
Even as Anna Hazare continues with his fight against corruption, here comes yet another scam. Two public sector steel plants have been accused of purchasing illegally mined iron ore from Orissa mines, by the Orissa chief minister Naveen Patnaik.
Patnaik was replying to written questions by Congress MLA Naba Kishore Das in the Orissa assembly in the winter, as well as the current budget session, wherein Das had enquired after the details of persons and organisations being chargesheeted by the vigilance department for their involvement in the mining scam. The CM’s written answers are in the possession of HT.
Giving a hint of a scam within the scam, Patnaik, who named Bokaro Steel Plant, Rourkela Steel Plant and the privately held Tarini Enterprises (of Keonjhar district), also said that these plants were not chargesheeted as there was "no illegality found against them during investigation".
In fact, answering the Das's question as to whether the vigilance department had taken steps to seize the illegally mined ore or interrogated any purchaser or transporter, Patnaik said: "No transporter and purchaser of illegally mined ore have been examined by the vigilance."
Das said, "The reply by the chief minister reflects that the vigilance probe into the mining scam is heading nowhere."
A spokesperson of Steel Authority of India Limited (Sail) rubbished the CM's claims. He told HT that Sail had nine captive mines of its own, which supplied more than enough ore to its plants all over India. After meeting 100% requirement of Sail plants, the mines supply the surplus ore to other public sector plants.
"So buying iron ore, either legally or illegally mined, does not arise at all. We do not buy even an ounce of ore from outside," he said.
Sail, the country’s largest steel producing company, owns the Bokaro and Rourkela Steel Plants.
According to Patnaik, the vigilance department findings revealed that the mine owners had illegally dispatched more than 3 lakh metric tonnes (mt) of iron ore. They had also evaded royalties or sales tax amounting to more than Rs 8 crore.
He also informed that in the last 10 years more than 15 lakh mt of iron ore worth more than Rs 948 crore was shown to be falsely excavated from the mining lease hold area without any record. The mine owners have evaded payment of sales tax of more than Rs 52 crore for which they have been chargesheeted.