ROURKELA: Allegation of coal theft from Kulda and Garjanbahal mines of Mahanadi Coalfields Ltd (MCL) in Hemgir block has resurfaced with reports of a well-knit racket carrying out the illegal activity by manipulating the security system.
While authorities of MCL and Mines department are in denial mode, those familiar with racket’s modus operandi claimed that organised coal theft is a reality. The racket is reportedly led by a transport contractor.
Sources said Kulda and Garjanbahal mines have separate entry and exit gates for transport vehicles coming from Sundargarh and Raigarh (Chhattisgarh) sides. The transport agency engaged in coal transportation to Raigarh enjoys unchallenged monopoly. Using one transit permit (TP), a truck of the agency often dumps the consigned coal at a nearby sponge iron plant in the first trip before taking another load to Raigarh. The weigh bridges, entry and exit gates are manned by private security personnel with no MCL officials in sight at these places. Coal theft also takes place with overloading, but that amount stolen is small.
Congress president of Hemgir block Purushottam Pradhan claimed that unscrupulous MCL personnel and private security guards at the mines are hand in glove in the racket. Laikera, Kanika and Sardega railway sidings of South Eastern Railway (SER) are the other points used by racketeers, he added. According to reports, a week back, 2,98,954 tonne of coal was found stacked on a private land near Laikera railway siding.
Deputy director of mines (DDM), Rourkela Bimbadhar Sethi, however, gave a clean chit to the transport agency and said the coal found on private land originated from MCL mines. Due to non-availability of railway rakes and adequate space at the siding, the coal was stacked nearby illegally. The incident has been reported to the department, he said.
Mines officials and police regularly conduct raids and no incident of coal theft has come to fore, the DDM added. Sources, however, said an indent is first sent to the railways and after permission, coal can be stacked at the siding. The incident raised doubt as without stacking permission, how can such a huge quantity of coal be taken out from the mines and dumped on a private land, they said. MCL spokesperson B Jamwal sought time to comment on the issue.