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Coal row: 20 hurt as Congress workers clash with police outside Odisha assembly

Congress workers and police clashed outside the Odisha assembly in Bhubneswar on Thursday. Congress workers were demanding chief minister Naveen Patnaik's resignation over 'scam' in coal block allocations. Congress workers clash with cops near Odisha Assembly

india Updated: Sep 06, 2012 17:44 IST

Around 20 persons were injured as Congress workers protesting against the BJD government today tried to gherao the Odisha Assembly and fought a pitched
battle with police.

When water cannon and teargas failed to disperse the Congress demonstrators near the Lower PMG close to the assembly building the police used batons, police sources said.

The demonstrators retaliated with stones, they said. Among the injured were DCP Nitinjeet Singh and seven policemen, the sources said.

A dozen demonstrators were also injured in the police action, the sources said. Earlier, the demonstrators were addressed by Congress
stalwarts including state in-charge Jagdish Tytler and PCC President Niranjan Patnaik who dubbed the the BJD government as the most corrupt in Odisha.

The Congress leaders also raised the coal block allocation and fertiliser scarcity issues and held the chief minister responsible for irregularities.
Accusing the state government of depriving the poor of rice and wheat provided by the Centre, the Congress leaders alleged that the BJD government was providing only 25 kg per family against 35 kg given by the central government under various schemes like Antyodaya Anna Yojana.

Denying the allegations, the chief minister told reporters that the charges against the BJD were meaningless in view of the scams in which the Congress-led UPA government was allegedly involved.

Opposition parties in Odisha have demanded that the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) probe how the state government recommended 42 companies for allocation of coal blocks. They want chief minister Naveen Pattnaik to resign over the issue.

The controversy over coal block allocations has taken the country by storm after the report of the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) was tabled in Parliament on August 17. The report said there has been an estimated loss of Rs. 1.86 lakh crore to the government from allocation of 57 coal blocks to companies without competitive bidding.

The Odisha government has been sucked into the controversy over coal block allotment issue after Patnaik reacted to Union coal minister Sriprakash Jaiswal's comment that five coal rich states, including Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh, Odisha, West Bengal and Rajasthan, opposed competitive bidding for coal block allocation.

(with agency inputs)

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