Jharkhand opposition demands white paper on steel plant deal


Ranchi : Opposition parties in Jharkhand are demanding a white paper on a deal signed between the state government and a firm, whose capital is reportedly less than the agreement's worth, to set up a steel plant in the state.

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"The Madhu Koda government has signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) with a company whose capital is less than the amount signed. This MoU reflects that corruption is at its peak in this government," said former chief minister Arjun Munda of the National Democratic Alliance (NDA).

"The government deal with Triangle Company is worth Rs.3 billion. But the total capital of the firm is just Rs.500,000," Munda pointed out.

"This is a mockery of the people of the state. The government should have looked into the capital value and market reputation of the company," he told IANS Tuesday.

Munda alleged that Triangle Company had been floated by a liquor firm just to exploit the mining resources of Jharkhand. "We demand high a level probe and a white paper on the MoU," he said.

"After getting the lease of the iron ore mines, the company will sell them, make money and not set up a steel plant. This is a big scam and we will expose the politicians and bureaucrats involved in it through an inquiry," Munda said.

Chief Minister Madhu Koda, while responding to the charges, said he has "ordered for probe into the MoU" and that "those guilty would not be spared".

Rabindra Mahto of the Jharkhand Mukti Morcha (JMM), which supports Koda's government, said the "MoU drama" had started during the earlier NDA government itself and was continuing in the Unite Progressive Alliance (UPA) as well.

"Before signing an MoU with any company, the government should look at the credentials and reputation of the firm," Mahto said.

The Communist Party of India-Marxist Leninist (CPI-ML), meanwhile, has demanded a white paper on all MoUs signed by both the NDA and the UPA governments.

"There are many MoUs that were signed with non descript companies. People have the right to know the truth behind them," said Vinod Kumar Singh, a CPI-ML legislator.

In the last five years, the Jharkhand government has signed agreements with 64 companies in steel, mining, power and other sectors. The companies are to pump in Rs.2.4 trillion into the state. Major MoUs have been signed with Mittal steel, Jindal steel and Tata steel too.