JHARSUGUDA: Police busted a coal theft racket and arrested seven of its members on charges of illegally transporting coal from Lakhanpur mines. Four heavy vehicles and one payloader with 68 tonnes of coal have been seized from them. Stealing of coal from various mines in Ib valley coalfields has been continuing unabated for several years. Usually, locals sell the coal to nearby industries and brick kilns that do not have a purchase contract with MCL.
According to police reports, a payloader and four heavy vehicles, after loading coal from Lakhanpur mines, were moving towards Sambalpur via Rampela bridge on Saturday night. Suspecting foul play, a patrolling team of Bandhbahal police intercepted the vehicles and demanded documents from the drivers. Unable to show the vehicles’ documents and permission to transport the coal, police arrested heavy and payloader drivers and helpers.
Informing this to media persons, Jharsuguda SP AK Mohanty said the accused are Rajesh Vishwakarma, Sukant Naik, Gokul Kua, Sudhir Mandal, Suresh Patel, Pankaj Yadav and Subash Chandra Raut. All were forwarded to court on Sunday. Sources said villagers from Lakhanpur-affected area, who were given coal transporting jobs by MCL, in connivance with unscrupulous traders and brick kiln owners, steal coal from the mines and sell them outside to earn a hefty income.