The Anti-Corruption Commission’s sleuths investigating into the case over disappearance of 1,48,000 tonnes coal from the Barapukuria Colliery are in a dilemma to complete the probe due to technical issues.
As none of the reports of three other probe committees constituted by authorities had been published since July 2018, the board of the Barapukuria Coal Mining Company has shown the massive theft as ‘systems loss.’
The theft of the massive coal stocks from the Barapukuria Coal Mine was exposed in July 2018.
Petrobangla chairman Ruhul Amin told New Age that since July last year, three probe committees were formed, one each by Petrobangla, the energy ministry and the prime minister’s office.
The committee formed by the PMO submitted its report to the prime minister’s office while report of the committee formed the energy ministry was submitted to the energy ministry.
Petrobangla’s technical probe committee identified the theft as ‘system loss’ and the report is at the Petrobangla and was not submitted to the higher authorities, said Ruhul Amin.
ACC’s investigators told New Age that their confusion stems over the difference between theft and system loss.
They also said that many innocent officers of the Barapukuria Coal Mining Company Limited would face the probes ‘if the rules are followed though these officers were not in the picture when the theft occurred.’
That is why, said the investigators, they were delaying completion of the probes.
When asked chief of the three-member probe team ACC deputy director Shamsul Alam said that he would submit the probe report to the commission after discussing the issues with ACC chairman Iqbal Mahmood.
‘We would follow his instructions,’ he said.
He said about 40 BCMCL employees had been interrogated at the colliery several times.
Immediate after the information of the coal theft came to its knowledge, on July 23, 2018, the ACC formed a committee to investigate into the matter.
The ACC has imposed bans on travels by at least 35 Petrobangla officials including 19 listed accused though the government took no action except suspending an unspecified number of officials.
On July 24, 2018, a case was filed against 19 BCMCL officials with the local police and the case was later forwarded to ACC for investigation.
BCMCL manager (administration) Mohammad Anisur Rahman filed the case with Parbatipur model police station accusing 19 suspects including former BCMCL managing director Habib Uddin Ahmed.
Of the accused, Habib, general manager (mine operation) ATM Nuruzzaman Chowdhury, deputy general manager (store) Khalemul Islam were suspended in July 2018.
Accused general managers Abul Quasem Prodhania and Abdul Mannan Patwari now work with the Pashchimanchal Gas Company Limited while manager Masudur Rahman Hawlader now works with Sundarban Gas Company Limited on deputation.
According to the list of manpower of the company updated in January 2019 and posted on the company website, accused manager (finance and accounts) Gopal Chandra Saha was later promoted as general manager, manager (mine planning and development) Zobayer Ali was given charge as deputy general manager while managers Mosharraf Hossain (exploration), Ashok Kumar Haldar (production management), Arifur Rahman (maintenance and operation), Jahidul Islam (design, construction and maintenance) and Syed Imam Hasan (security), deputy managers Ekramul Haque (safety management), Muhammad Khalilur Rahman (coal handling), Morsheduzzaman (maintenance and operation), Habibur Rahman (production management), Jahedur Rahman (mine development) and assistant manager Satyendranat Barman remained in the same positions.
On July 23, 2018, the prime minister issued orders to bring the perpetrators to book as quickly as possible.
A departmental probe identified shortage of coal stocked at the power plant to the tune of 1,48,000 tonnes worth about Tk 230 crore.
On December 6, 2018, BCMCL at its 20th board meeting treated the theft of 1,44,644 tonnes of coal as ‘system loss’.
Experts condemned treating the theft as ‘system loss, ’ though in July 2018, PDB officials informed the BCMCL at its board meeting that they had found that the coal stocks had a shortage of 1,44,644 tonnes worth about Tk 230 crore.
Even after the theft was reported, Petrobangla promoted the then coal mine manager Gopal Chandra Saha, a listed accused in the theft case, as general manager of the mining company.
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