JHARSUGUDA: Theft of coal from the Mahanadi Coalfields Limited (MCL) has always been a major problem for the State Government. Any visible measures to curb the menace, however, is yet to be taken despite the Government losing crores on royalty.
The theft is rampant for the last one decade at Belpahar, Lakhanpur, Samaleswari and Lajkura open cast projects under the Ib Valley Coalfields Area of MCL.
Sources said nexus between the security personnel of MCL and coal mafia has led to the broad daylight theft of coal by 20 to 30 trucks daily. Besides, MCL authorities, coal mafias and mining officials are responsible for the mining and transportation of illegal coal of thousands of tonnes every day by other small vehicles.
If sources are to be believed, the modus operandi of the coal mafias is to use experienced drivers of heavy vehicles with one original set of transit pass of Mining Department and gate pass of MCL.
Without actually using the documents they make several trips to transport illegal coal consignment to pre-designated locations. A truck in a trip procures 16 to 18 tonnes of coal at a cost of Rs 8,000 to Rs 10,000 and sell it between Rs 25,000 to Rs 30,000. If ever caught, the drivers are under instruction to abandon the vehicles and truck owners are paid full value. And several trucks with fake registration numbers are rusting at police stations.
Chief General Manager of Ib Valley Area R P Gupta admitted to the thefts. He said electronic surveillance is being strengthened and Bhatia coal washery is under scanner.
Deputy Director of Mines Jaydev Das said the department was taking appropriate measures to prevent loss of the natural resources.
The Jharsuguda administration has also woken up to the menace as Collector GP Mishra on Tuesday convened a meeting of departmental officers to ensure strict enforcement against coal pilferage. SP K S Kawar said police enforcement would be strengthened to prevent coal pilferage.
Last year, Union Coal Minister Prakash Jaiswal during his visit had committed to replace private security guards with CISF but nothing has changed till date.