Bhubaneswar: Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaik Thursday defended the recommendation he had made in 2002 for the allotment of a coal block to a private company.
After coming under criticism over the issue from the Congress party, Patnaik said his government had taken the decision in the interest of the state.
“We recommended their case (Jindal Steel Power Limited) for a coal block for their Odisha project. This block had been allotted to a private power plant in Tamil Nadu and it had already exceeded the dateline given to it,” Patnaik told reporters here.
“In a number of cases private companies who do not benefit the state have been given coal blocks in Odisha without our recommendation. Why did the centre make allocations to such companies,” Patnaik asked.
The chief minister said that coal is a subject on which the central government has complete authority. “It is not as if the centre does allocation only on our recommendations,” he said.
He added that his government has always stood for value-addition within the state which means more jobs to the citizens and more revenue for development programmes.
Patnaik’s statement came soon after V. Narayanasamy, minister of state in the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO), questioned his motive behind the recommendation.
“What was the personal interest of the chief minister in that? It has to be investigated,” Narayanasamy said in a press conference here.
“When hundreds and thousands of people were there who wanted coal blocks, why only one company you (the chief minister) are choosing? There is something behind it… That will also be investigated by the CBI (Central Bureau of Investigation)” he said.
The Odisha chief minister had allegedly written to the prime minister in 2002 seeking allocation of a coal block in the state to JSPL.
In a recent report, the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) said that private players had windfall gains worth Rs.1.86 lakh crore in the 142 coal blocks allocated to them.