Without batting an eyelid, State Union Minister for Petroleum and Natural Gas, Dharmendra Pradhan today backed the decision to divest PSU&’s including Nalco glossing over the fact that the BJP had opposed similar moves when it was in the Opposition at the centre. 

Pradhan ducked questions on the shift instance vis-a-vis Nalco divestment. He parroted the standard reply that divested of PSUs was necessary to mobilize funds for social welfare schemes. 

The Union Minister also emphasized that the government will be the owner of the PSUs. The statements in favor of divestment were a U-turn as far as Nalco was concerned as the BJP and other Opposition parties including the BJD in the state had vehemently opposed earlier moves to offload shares of Nalco. 

It is the only profit making central PSU in Odisha, it is linked to the sentiments of people of the state, we will not allow any divestment of Nalco, was the line of argument of the non-Congress parties. 

Today, however Pradhan, had no hesitation in saying that divestment proposals lined by the government had become imperative in order to mop up revenue for developmental activities. 

The Union Minister was however more assertive when questions relating to transfer of the Waltair division of the railways to a proposed new zone in Andhra Pradesh were asked. 

I had opposed de-linking Waltair Railway Division from the East Coast Railway Zone when I was in the Opposition and I continue to do so , but the Act passed by parliament on bifurcation of the erstwhile Andhra Pradesh state does mention of a new railway zone for the newly carved state, he said. Pradhan went on to add that Waltair Division should remain under ECoR. If it is to be part of the new zone, then the railways have to include other divisions to the ECoR, he said. No decision has been taken as yet, he added. 

He was equally firm in denying reports that the HAL unit at Sunabeda will be shifted to Bengaluru. Such reports are baseless, claimed Pradhan while informing that he was saying so after talking to authorities in the defence establishment.

Pradhan was addressing a press conference here to highlight the achievements of the Narendra Modi government. 

Responding to the charge by the ruling BJD that the centre had not provided adequate assistance and support for the Nabakalebar festival of Lord Jagannath Puri, the Union Minister said the centre was willing to support the state and had said so. 

Each ministry is open to lend support and assistance in critical areas for the festival. The road, over bridge, sanitation, tourism aspect etc are all in the scheme of things and I have been in touch with the state government on their requirements. Besides, the PM has himself announced an allocation of Rs 50 crore, he pointed out.