शनिवार, 29 अक्तूबर 2016

Call for “Save Mahanadi” by Govt. of Odisha for Whom ?

Call for “Save Mahanadi”   by Govt. of Odisha for Whose interest – Company or farmers and common people?

Dear friends
In the Backdrop of Mahasangram for Mahanadi- a call given by BJD Govt.  to  save Mahanadi  which is going to be  greatly affected  or dried  up  due to over-exploitation of  water  by Chhatisgarh Govt.  and its damaging impact  on agriculture and livelihood of millions of the people of Odisha, series of RTI Applications  have been submitted to  State Govt. and Central Govt.  to unearth the truth  about  the allegations made  by  Govt. of Odisha and  status of  Hirakud Dam, quantity of water  used by different stake holders,   real exploiter  of Mahanadi river, revenue generated,   benefit reached to farmers etc.

RTI Application dated 1.10.16 was submitted to PIO, Dept. of Water resources about  details of water tax pending against the companies  and  steps taken by Govt.   to recover water tax since 16 years  of BJD Govt.  On 27.10.16, the PIO, office of Engineer-in-Chief has supplied the following  information.

1.   Since 2000, water tax amounting Rs. 1886.64 crores  is pending against  32 prominent Companies who have brough stay order from Odisha High Court.  This is the arrear revenue as on 31.3.2016 has been locked up due to court cases. The court cases are going on since 16 years.  Though   the Chief Minister  has kept this Dept. with him  since last 16 years, he has not been able to  vacate the cases in High Court.  Even from the beginning, many efficient IAS officers like Bijay Patnaik, Sri Aurobido Behera, Sri Suresh Mohapatra and presently Sri Pradeep Jena have  served  as Secretary of this Water Resource Dept.  But they have not succeeded  to vacate stay  in the court.  Is it their inefficiency  that they  could  not be able  to fight against powerful companies  or  are they working under pressure  from  their boss to protect the  interest of  Corporate house.  So it  can be concluded  that the Companies are enjoying unbridled power   more  than State Govt. in such way  that  they  continue  taking  water from Mahanadi and other rivers  without paying   a single pie  for several years. It is needless to mention here that the State Govt.  has spent lakhs of rupees  towards payment of   fee for  advocates  to fight the  case in High court without  any tangible   results.    It  has happened  due to  nexus of  politicians  and  corrupt bureaucracy  with companies. The interest of the  State  has been sacrificed  by Sri Nabin Patnaik, Chief Minister of Odisha  for corporate  house.  

2.   It was also   observed  from the content of information supplied  by the PIO  that  last hearing  of the cases filed  by Companies  challenging  fixation of water tax  was held  by High  Court on 15.1.16. The Chief Engineer, water services has filed  additional affidavit  on 3.2.15 for 20 number of cases.  Though one and half year passed,  the  Govt.  could not  ensure   further hearing  of      the case  by the Court on priority basis.  This is the efficiency  of the  administration of the  State Govt.?

3.   The prominent  Companies having arrear outstanding  of water tax (whose case is pending  in High court ) are Sewa Paper Mill, Jeypore ( 291.81 crores ), NALCO, Damanjodi ( 97.21 crore), M.C.L., Talcher ( 305.45 crore), M/s Orissa Power Consortium Ltd. ( 109.36 crore), Orient Paper Mill, Brajaraj Nagar ( 85.17 crore), Arati Steel ( 23.48 crore), Viraj Steel and Energy Ltd. ( 12.02 crore), NALCO, Angul ( 439.00 crore), Sri Mahavir Fello Alloys ( 20.38 crores). Reliance Industries, Dhenkanal ( 17.50 crore), Tata Refractories Ltd. ( 25.78 crore).

4.    The total amount of  Rs. 255.07 crore  of arrear water tax  revenue   are outstanding against  the 151 Companies without  Court cases since 2000. The prominent  companies  from whom the State Govt. has not been able to collect water tax are  M/s Bhusan Limited  ( 29.71 crore), M/s Shyam DRI Pvt. Ltd. ( 40.93 crore),  M/S ESPL Ltd. ( 8 crore), ESSAR Steel Ltd. ( 16.83 crore), Adhuik Metalliks ( 13.12 crore) etc.

5.   On query about  steps taken by Water Resources Dept.  to collect pending water tax from the Companies,    the PIO  has said that  as per decision taken in the meeting chaired by  the Chief Secretary on 5.5.2015 with Advocate General, Principal Secretary, Law, the field level Executive Engineers  were directed  to file Misc. cases  before High Court  praying to direct  the petitioner Industry  to deposit 50% of outstanding water tax  until final disposal of the  case and vacation of stay order.  Accordingly Misc. Case has been filed against 12  companies    in High Court. But nothing has happened.

6.   Despite several persuasion by High level officers to the Companies for quick  payment of outstanding water Tax,  they are not responding and continue  to ignore  Govt. appeal.  This is the hopeless state of affairs in the State administration.

Pradip Pradhan

Date- 28.10.16 

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