Ajit Jogi flays move to lease mines to BALCO

BHUBANESWAR, MAY 20. The Chhatishgarh Chief Minister, Mr. Ajit Jogi, today alleged that the Orissa Government's decision to recommend lease of bauxite mines in Rayagada district in favour of the Bharat Aluminium Company Ltd (BALCO) on the eve of the company's privatisation had generated much suspicion.

This decision has brought the Chief Minister, Mr. Naveen Patnaik ``under a cloud of suspicion,'' Mr. Jogi told reporters here. Replying to questions, Mr. Jogi said though the BALCO workers had gone back to work, the State Government, along with six trade unions and the tribals on whose land the industry was set up, had challenged the validity of the disinvestment in the company before the Supreme Court.

``I have full hope in the judiciary that the tribals will get justice on this issue,'' Mr. Jogi, who visited the city for a few hours to deliver the Rajiv Gandhi memorial lecture organised by the Rajiv Gandhi Centre here, said.

Asked about the Orissa government's charge that scores of dams and barrages constructed across the Mahanadi river in Chhatisgarh had deprived the eastern state of its requirement of water, he said there was no water in the Mahanadi and Chhatisgarh was reeling under a severe water crisis caused by the drought.

Mr. Jogi, on the other hand, alleged that Jagdalpur area of his state had been facing water scarcity because the Orissa Government had constructed dams over the Indravati river which flows west into Chhatisgarh.

This is something which should be discussed and settled between the two states, Mr. Jogi said adding a ministerial delegation visited Bhubaneswar a few months ago to take up the matter with the Orissa administration.

Addressing at the Rajiv Gandhi Centre earlier, Mr. Jogi hit out against the forces of communalism who were trying to divide the people on the basis of religion.

The gathering, which was addressed by several top Congress leaders including the former Chief Minister, Mr. Hemananda Biswal, the former Union Minister, Mr. Sikant Jena and the former MP, Jayanti Patnaik, was presided over by the president of Rajiv Gandhi Centre, Bansidhar biswal.

Mr. Jogi also presented the Rajiv Gandhi memorial award to Purna Chandra Mohapatra, chairman of a block, Bhabani Sankar Nayak, a teacher and Ganesh Prasad Das, a government official.

Former ministers, Bhagabat Prasad Mohanty, Harihar Karan and Netrananda Mallick also spoke on the occasion.

`BJP Govt. bound to collapse'

Mr. Ajit Jogi today claimed that the countdown for the fall of the Vajpayee Government had began with the conclusion of the Assembly elections in several states.

``Though we don't want the collapse of the Central government, it is bound to collapse under the weight of its internal contradictions,'' Mr. Jogi told newsmen here.

While the BJP was completely routed, the results of the recent Assembly polls, which involved about one-fourth of the Lok Sabha seats, had given clear indications that any party which joined hands with the saffron outfit - whether it was DMK in Tamil Nadu or AGP in Assam - were also rejected by the masses, he said. This was a common factor in every state where the polls were held, he added.