Bhubaneswar: Odisha’s minister of forest and environment Bijoyshree Routray has used a Toyota Crysta donated by steel and mining major Tata Steel in 2018 costing Rs 25 lakh in lieu of a site specific wildlife conservation plan for Joda West Manganese mines by Tata Steel. He has never done patrolling with the luxurious vehicle which cannot run on rough roads.
This information has been obtained by noted environmentalist through RTI. DFOs and other forest officials too use vehicles donated by mining beneficiaries.
Mohanty, a member of Transparency International (India), wrote on social media,
Can we ever expect Odisha Forest Department to crack down on Tata mines for forest law violations? This vehicle has been happily gifted by Tata Steel for getting forest clearance for Joda West mines. Shameful !
What enforcement will Odisha forest Department do against Tata Steel Mines if their boss swishes around in this donated vehicle, questioned Mohanty.
In a newspaper article Mohanty pointed out that no other Government Department which badly needs vehicles like Health and Mass Education for public services is recipient of such largesse because the mining companies can never get any benefits from them. The Government is aware of the huge conflict of interest but has never stopped the unethical practice. The Forest Department is the regulator and enforces forest laws. In fact, the Forest Secretary was also using a vehicle in 2008 donated by another mining company.
Thought Government departments have been asked by the State Finance Department to maintain austerity while purchasing vehicles, the Forest Department has been regularly demanding and obtaining luxurious vehicles from mining companies, industries and even PSUs.