The opposition members in Odisha on Wednesday demanded a CBI inquiry into the circumstances under which the state government recommended 42 companies for allocation of coal blocks and chief minister Naveen Pattnaik's resignation on moral ground during a debate on the issue in the assembly.
Later, the members staged walkout, not satisfied with state steel and mine minister Rajanikant Singh's reply that the state government had not done anything wrong by recommending allocation to the companies.
"The state government has signed MoUs with 50 steel and 29 power companies and we have to address to their requirement. But the central government allocated coal blocks in the state to13 public sector units operating outside the state," Singh said.
Congress members said while the central government was in favour of auction based allocation of coal blocks, the state government strongly opposed to it.
"Contrary to the claims by the minister (Singh), there has been no local employment in the companies favoured by the state government. This is a scam and the chief minister should set an example by resigning on the issue and the government should suo moto order a CBI probe," said Congress chief whip Prasad Harichandan.
Leader of BJP legislative party KV Singhdeo said both Congress and BJD are neck deep in the 'coalgate'. He said it was strange that the state government
recommended for allocation of coal blocks to the steel and power companies even though 50% of them had yet to take off or even acquire land.
Days after asserting that it had all along asked the central government to allocate coal blocks through competitive bidding, the Odisha government on Tuesday admitted that it recommended allocations for 42 companies - mostly private firms.
Singh however justified it saying the state's recommendations were only meant for proper utilisation of resources, development of industries, encouragement of local employment and overall development of Odisha.