Probe blames improper inventory for coal theft

Staff Correspondent | Updated at 11:40pm on July 25, 2018

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A probe committee submitted its report on Wednesday blaming improper maintenance of inventory for disappearance of coal while a case was filed against 19 Barapukuria Coal Mining Company Limited officials for the scam that caused closure of a power plant and power supply disruption in Rangpur division.
The inquiry committee led by Petrobangla director (mining) Quamruzzaman submitted its report to state-minister for ministry of power, energy and mineral resources Nasrul Hamid at about noon, ministry officials said.
Nasrul told reporters at the ministry in the afternoon that he was yet to go through the whole report.
‘I can make comments only after going through it properly,’ he said.
He, however, blamed Petrobangla for not maintaining inventory since the beginning of the operation of the Barapukuria Coal Mine in 2006.
He suspected that all officials of the company were involved in the irregularities and corruption which caused disappearance of 1,48,000 tonnes of coal from the mine field and forced complete shut-down of a thermal power plant nearby since Sunday.
Nasrul said that actions would be taken against the people involved in the scam as per the report of the committee appointed on Sunday.
Barapukuria coal mine manager (administration) Mohammad Anisur Rahman filed the case with Parbatipur model police station Tuesday night accusing 19 officials of the company, including former managing director Habib Uddin Ahmed, of stealing 1,44,644 tonne coal worth about Tk 230 crore.
Barapukuria Coal Mining Company general manager (administration) Abul Quasem Prothania, general manager (mine operation) ATM Nuruzzaman Chowdhury, deputy general manager (store) Khalemul Islam, who were suspended earlier, who were suspended following the scam, were among the 19 officials named in the case.
Deputy managing director (mine planning and development) Zobayer Ali, former general manager Abdul Mannan Patwari, manager (finance and accounts) Gopal Chandra Saha, managers Mosharraf Hossain (exploration), Masudur Rahman Hawlader (general services), 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 9mine development), and assistant manager Satyendranat Barman were also named in the case.
Parbatipur model police station inspector (investigation) Fakhrul Islam told New Age that they already sent the case document to the Anti-Corruption Commission for investigation.
On July 23, the commission formed a three-member committee to look into the ‘disappearance of coal’ from Barapukuria coal mine.
Commission secretary M Shamsul Arefeen said that they came to know that a case was filed with the local police station for the coal scam.
‘We will take initiative to investigate the case after getting the case documents,’ he said.
According to the first information report, 1,01,66,042 tonnes coal had been extracted from the mine until July 19, 2018.
Of the coal, 66,87,029 tonnes had been supplied to the power plant, 33,19,280 tonnes had been sold to private parties, 12,088.27 tonnes had been used to run boilers of the coal mine company.
The complaint stated that the deposit of coal was only 3,000 tonnes on July 18 which should have been 1,47,644 tonnes.
The complaint said that the accused were involved in the theft of 1,44,644 tonnes of coal worth about Tk 230 crore.
Prime minister Sheikh Hasina at a special meeting on Monday ordered bringing the people responsible for the disappearance of coal to book as quickly as possible.
She also asked the officials for reinvestigating the coal scam.
On Wednesday, Transparency International Bangladesh and Bangladesh Environmental Lawyers Association in joint statement demanded an acceptable investigation into the coal scam and punish the errant officials.
They also demanded that allocation of coal to polluted brick fields should be banned.
They noted that Petrobangla, ministry of power, energy and mineral resources and Barapukuria Coal Mining Company Limited could not avoid responsibility for failure to safeguard the national assets.