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Illegal coal trade: CBI conducts searches at 45 locations in four States

Central Bureau of Investigation HQ, in New Delhi.   | Photo Credit: PTI

The Central Bureau of Investigation on Saturday searched 45 locations in four States in connection with the illegal mining and theft of coal from Kunustoria and Majora collieries in West Bengal’s West Burdwan. One of the accused persons suffered a heart attack and was declared dead at a hospital in Asansol.

 

“The searches were carried out in West Bengal, Jharkhand, Bihar and Uttar Pradesh. Electronic devices, records of financial transactions and about ₹41 lakh in cash were seized,” said a CBI official.

 

Both the collieries come under the Eastern Coalfields Limited (ECL).

Massive network

 

Among those named in the FIR registered on Friday is alleged coal mafia leader Anup Maji aka Lala, who had been active for the past several years and had built a huge network with his associates. He is also said to have strong political links.

 

The other accused persons are two ECL general managers, Amit Kumar Dhar (then of Kunustoria area) and Jayesh Chandra Rai (Kajora area); chief of security (Asansol) Tanmay Das; area security inspector (Kunustoria) Dhananjay Rai, who passed away; and security in-charge (Kajora area) Debashish Mukherjee.

More officials under lens

 

Unknown officials of the Railways and the Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) are also under the scanner for facilitating theft and transportation of coal.

 

The CBI move is said to be a part of the crackdown on the coal mafia in the eastern region by multiple enforcement agencies over the past few weeks.

 

On November 4, the Income-Tax Department conducted searches in the same matter and seized a huge pile of documents, revealing details of transactions related to illegal coal mining and transportation. The Enforcement Directorate is also being roped in.

 

According to the FIR registered by the CBI, the allegation pertains to illegal excavation and theft of coal by criminal elements from the leasehold area of ECL in connivance with the officials of the ECL, the CISF, Railways and other departments.

 

A joint inspection by the Vigilance Department and the Task Force of ECL on its several leasehold areas from May 2020 unearthed evidence of large-scale illegal mining involving the coal mafia. The team seized a large number of vehicles and equipment used in illegal coal mining and transportation. Several instances of installation of illegal weigh bridges in concrete form were also detected.

 

During the departmental raids at a railway siding of the Pandaveswar area on August 7, 9.05 tonne of stolen coal was seized. Similar seizures were made at several other railway locations.

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Printable version | Jan 20, 2021 4:31:47 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/illegal-coal-trade-cbi-raids-40-places-in-3-states/article33198912.ece

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