Odisha sitting on Rs4 lakh cr mining scam, claims Jena Union Minister Srikant Jena on Monday sought Odisha Chief Minister Naveen Patnaikâ€™s resignation and demanded he be charged with criminal conspiracy for a mining ore scam of Rs four lakh crore. Lashing out at the State Government, Jena said â€œBy imposing Rs58,000 crore fine on seven mining operators for illegal mining, the Odisha Government has admitted to mega loot of minerals.â€ However, Jena, who is MoS (Independent Charge) Statistics and Programme Implementation and Chemicals and Fertilisers, claimed that Rs58,000 crore was a mere eyewash as conservative estimates suggested that mining irregularities in the State amounted to nearly Rs4 lakh crore. â€œPatnaikâ€™s real face has been unmasked.... Itâ€™s not true that he is the most honest CM. Scams have been happening in the State for the past 10 years. He has sold all the rich bauxite mines in Odisha. I want the State mining corporation to take over bauxite mining. â€œA case has been pending in Odisha High Court for six years... I have been forced to expose the scam. Nothing is going to happen... Patnaik will have to go,â€ he said....... The State was â€œsitting idleâ€ since 2003-04 to rein in the â€œrampant irregularitiesâ€ in mining even after repeated prodding from his party, Jena said. â€œNow, by sending out the notices to the miners, Patnaik has acknowledged his involvement in the scam. He has no right to continue in his position and should resign along with the concerned minister, he said and favoured cancellation of all the mining leases and handing them over to the state-run Orissa Mining Corporation. .He alleged that the Odisha government has allowed both private firms as well as a â€œmining mafiaâ€ to mine well outside the demarcated areas, dig out iron ore in excess as well as in places which have not been contracted out for extraction. The Congress leader has alleged that Patnaik allowed iron ore worth Rs. 2, 50,000 crore to be illegally mined; a lot of it by private firms in excess of the contracted amount. The state is reported to have asked several of the private firms, including the Tatas, Essel and those linked to Jindal Steel, to pay penalties totaling to Rs. 58,000 crore for excess mining. The state-owned mining corporation too has to pay a fine. BJD Member of Parliament Pinaki Mishra said that Jenaâ€™s allegations â€œshould be laughed offâ€ as the figure of Rs. 2,50,000 crore was in Jenaâ€™s â€œhead, he has not backed it up with any evidenceâ€. Other experts say that the allegations of aiding and abetting illegal mining of iron ore by Odisha government is to the tune of over Rs one lakh crore. According to a petition filed by a group of private citizens before the Odisha High Court, on which orders were reserved one year ago, the Naveen Patnaik government not only helped mine owners to extract ore beyond the permissible limits, but turned a blind eye to the largescale encroachment and open violation of existing laws in the state. BJP leader in the state Bijoy Mahapatra told The Pioneer, â€œThere was no check from the point of extraction of ore to its delivery, storage up to the export from the port.â€ He said there was enough evidence of corruption and illegal transaction of iron ore against the state government to which the Chief Minister would need to tender explanation. Explaining the mode of corruption, Mahapatra said that the illegality was three-fold - extraction of ore beyond permissible limits, encroachment of forest area by mine owners, and violation of existing laws. â€œIn several cases extraction of ore exceeded twice or thrice the permissible limits,â€ the BJP leader said. For instance, for some mining zones, the permissible limit prescribed was one lakh ton. However, the amount extracted was three lakh ton, robbing the state of precious resource and revenue attached with it, he said. Law was violated at each stage, he added. Mine owners were great, influential players who managed their way in the government to secure permissions and approve licenses without getting the mandatory forest and environment clearances, a necessary prerequisite for grant of mining license. â€œFrom the point of storage, transportation till the export of ore, there was no check at any point neither any action was taken against violation of laws by the departments of Revenue, Environment, and Mines.â€ Odisha sitting on Rs4 lakh cr mining scam, claims Jena ************************* Renuka Choudry, the Congress spokesperson distanced the Congress Party from the allegation. Is Jena a loose cannon? Or is there a method in the madness? Interestingly, is it that Mr Clean Patnaik also getting to feel the vice like grip of the Congress through its agencies and surrogates so that they respond favourably during the no confidence threatened to be tabled during the Winter Session of Parliament?