Subhas Chandra Pattanayak
The provincial Congress demand for CBI inquiry into illegal mining in Orissa is absolutely unacceptable, because the said organization has no spine to work honestly, as has already been established in the case against Quattrocchi. On the other hand, the Vigilance Police of Orissa has shown its ability to work as allegation of illegal mining in the State has been corroborated on the basis of its investigations, even though the mines it has made a cursory inquiry into, are quite marginal in number. Because of Orissa Vigilance, a group of officers including the Director of Mines is suspended under charges of involvement with the offense. So, it would be wrong not to rely upon Orissa Vigilance in the instant matter.
But instead of telling who is looting Orissa mines, the Vigilance Police would do better by telling if Chief Minister Navin Patnaik is not involved with the loot. Motherland is more important than the ruler, the sleuths and officers should remember.
Ores worth how many thousand crores of Rupees are looted according to Vigilance is not important at the moment. Important is, revelation of the details of the facilitator(s) of the loot. This revelation is needed for better management of democracy and the Orissa Vigilance Police is capable of fulfilling this need.
The Vigilance wing knows and we also know that it has raided a very small number of mines for an instant assessment of the loot. But the State Government has suspended operations in 128 mines and cancelled 482 trading licenses.
Why the Government has suspended operations in 128 mines and cancelled 482 trading licenses? The answer is very simple. To the knowledge of the State Government they are involved with illegal mining.
When the Vigilance has not spotted them all, how the Government could know that they are involved with illegal mining?
This question prompts us to assume that the State Government does not need to know of the looters through Vigilance Police, because it knows who the illegal operators are.
So, suspension of operations in 128 mines and cancellation of 482 trading licenses are based on the Government’s own knowledge of illegal mining activities of these operators.
How could illegal mining operators mushroomed to such high dimension so swiftly and so safely and why had the Government not taken any earlier action against them?
We need the answer to this question from the Vigilance. We expect that Chief Minister Navin Patnaik should come forward with the answer if he is not involved with this loot. If he does not come out with the answer, it should be the duty of the Vigilance Police to tell the people the truth.
It is not inappropriate to recall how Navin had figured in then Union Minister of State for Environment Dilip Singh Judeo’s bribe taking picture, when, before a spy cam, in the mouth of his personal assistant Natwar Rateria, a mines-monger from a foreign land was assured of smooth grabbing of mines in Orissa. “Orissa mein tasalli banayon. Jo chahenge voh hoga” (Celebrate your scope in Orissa. Whatever we want will happen there). How could Judeo be so sure? As Rateria hinted to, that was because of mutual cooperation between Judeo and Navin, which had helped the latter to bag 9000 crores of Rupees out of environmental clearance granted to mines operators. The dialogue delivered through Rateria, embarrassing to Orissa but relevant to the issue at hand, is, “Orissa mein bhi ………… apna kafi command hai… Nau hazaar (9,000) crore ki relief Naveen Patnaik ko apne mantralay ke project se… us se kuch bhi karva sekte hain”. (We have sufficient influence over Orissa as by granting environmental clearance to mining projects we have helped Navin Patnaik pocket 9000 crores of Rupees. We can make him do anything.) “… Naveen Patnaik ka jab bhi koi baat padegi, ek minute mein karva denge. Apne pehle aahsaan hain uske upar hai. Aur relationship bhi badi purani hai”. (Whenever you need work done from Naveen Patnaik, we can get it done in a minute. He is already indebted to us and our relationship is quite old.)
These were the dialogues on records that had shaken the country in August 2006 so much that Judeo was forced to resign from the Vajpayee ministry. But neither the Central Government under Vajpayee whose Ministry of Environment was misused for benefit of illegal mines operators nor the State Government of Orissa whose Chief Minister was thus named to have gained Rs.9000 crores from mines operators with the help of Judeo, took any step to establish that the assertions caught by spy cam were baseless and incorrect. This has kept the allegation alive and erect, though under layers of the dusts of time.
But time has exposed the enormity of illegality and corruption in management of mines in Orissa.
Therefore it is time, the Vigilance Police, if they are true to their salt, should investigate truthfully into every aspect of the mining scam and say if the Chief Minister Navin Patnaik is not involved with this. As we have watched, his henchmen have held the portfolio of mines in all these years and such enormous illegal activities by the mines mafia could not have run so safely for such a long period sans cooperation of the ministers concerned and the Chief Minister.
Modus operandi of Ministers, specifically the Chief Minister in helping mines mafia for payola or bribe, call it as you like, is a long experienced reality in Orissa.
As far back as on 14th July 1963, when Navin’s father Biju Patnaik was the Chief Minister of Orissa, an ever revered leader of matchless patriotism, late Nabakrishna Chowdhury had exposed the nexus between the political boss of the State and the mine owners.
Speaking at Gandhi Tattwa Prachar Kendra, Balasore, he had shown how huge money was being collected from mine owners / operators in the name of election funds by providing them with official support to fetch more profit by exploiting Orissa mines even as most of the funds so collected in name of the party was being misappropriated by the top leader and his close associates.
Taking the cue, journalist G.S.Bhargava had enumerated Biju’s unholy connection with the mines mafia and his other corruptions in the Indian Express in July 1964.
As Biju had tried to hoodwink the people by instituting a damage case against Bhargava, the people of Orissa had raised such a sharp and severe mass movement demanding his resignation that ultimately he had to be thwarted out of power. His case against Bhargava did not retain focus and was abandoned.
Like Biju, his mentor Harekrishna Mahtab was also marked for having personally gained by granting favor to exploiters of Orissa mines.
Justice Mudholkar in his fact-finding report had noted that Mahtab’s role in grant of lease of chromite mines to Md. Serajuddin in 1957 vis-à-vis his rapid acquisition of wealth between 1956 and 1960 read with his orders for withdrawal of criminal prosecution against ten iron and steel dealers were suggestive of corrupt practices.
When on Mudholkar’s recommendations, a judicial commission of inquiry was instituted with Justice Saraju Prasad in the Chair, Mahtab tried to obstruct its proceedings. The report of Prasad is full of evidences of evasive tactics used by Mahtab. Had a subsequent State Government not preferred not to press on prosecution against him in view of his old age, judiciary could have punished him for his grave offences against the State that he had committed in order to please the mines mafia.
So, Chief Ministers of Orissa serving the underworld in mining sector for personal monetary gains is not new and Navin Patnaik is a Chief Minister.
By suspending operations in 128 mines and canceling 482 licenses granted for trading and storage of minerals, the State Government has conversely confessed that till it decided to take this step, these illegal activities were going on without obstruction within its full knowledge. In fact, this step would never have been taken had Navin not been alarmed by the exposure spearheaded by BJP, his ally of yesterday, who are supposed to have known much more of mining corruption as the partners in previous two consecutive ministries. To save his skin, he may take further such steps and press vigilance to inquire into more mines. That does not and should not indicate that he is not personally involved.
To Navin, Congress is not a problem. Because the Congress is the breeder and protector of the environment of corruption in this country.
This party of Quattrocchi protectors has planted Dr.Man Mohan Singh, the father of India’s decadence into the Augean Stables of loot and treachery that has helped emergence of not only Harshad Mehtas and Ambanis but also has served the Pakistani Bank of Terror funding, BCCI with official support and even after it collapsed, has kept its role in ruining India shielded from public eyes as the Prime Minister of India. Inheriting by default the party of the founders of Indian democracy, the present Congress party has already been transformed by Sonia-Singh combine into a lunching pad of American interest and therefore, Navin in who POSCO and the likes see their staunch supporter, has nothing to fear from this party. Its role in the Assembly over the mining issue in the preceding couple of days confirms this aspect..
This is why there is no possibility of knowing the political components of the mines loot unless the Vigilance unveils who of the politicians in power has or have helped the mafia in this matter so far. Wrongs in democracy cannot be corrected if the real culprit is not dragged out of its political cocoon into public gaze.
Vigilance officers are our beloved countrymen with no less patriotism than what their political bosses claim to be having. They should, therefore, act honestly and help our democracy survive the onslaught by telling us through truthful investigation, if Navin is not involved in facilitating the mines loot.
When the principal opposition party’s role is dubious, the Vigilance wing, in the instant case, will be viewed as the last hope or the lost hope.