BHUBANESWAR: The Enforcement Directorate (ED) on Thursday cracked down on three Odisha-based mining firms as part of its investigation into illegal mining and money laundering.
The agency was conducting simultaneous raids at 15 places in Odisha, Tamil Nadu and West Bengal. At least ten places in Odisha’s Bhubaneswar, Rourkela and Keonjhar were under the search by the ED sleuths with assistance from the local police.
The ED sources said, the operation has been code named “Earth.” The agency sources said, a sitting MLA and a woman political leader have come under the raids but details are awaited.
Of the three firms, one has its office in Rourkela while mines are located in Keonjhar. Similarly, the other has offices in Bhubaneswar, Kolkata and mines in Keonjhar. Another earth-mover firm’s offices have also come under the ED raids.
The agency had initiated the probe basing on the report of Justice MB Shah Commission which was probing into the multi-hundred crore illegal mining scam in the State and indicted several big mining companies for unlawful mining activities, including mining over non-leased forest and non-forest land.
Besides, the Special Investigation Team on black money had also asked the ED to initiate action against money laundering. The ED has also based its probe on the reports of the State Vigilance which was initially conducting the investigation into illegal mining.
Sources said, the agency is suspecting that a number of the mining firms have stashed black money abroad which will come under the scope of the investigation. The ED has, so far, lodged three FIRs in connection with the illegal mining. It has arrested Deepak Gupta who headed Uliburu Mines and attached the assets worth Rs 485 crore earlier in May.