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Hiss of Hisaburu: Uncovering the story of a bigger mining scam

  Map showing illegal mining operation at Hisaburu in Odisha

Bhubaneswar |

Last updated 11 Oct 2015 16:48:20 +0530

  Odisha, Mining Scam, Hisaburu, Uliburu
As Hisaburu has started hissing, the story of a mining scam of a much larger scale is being uncovered and the nexus between mining officials and looters of Odisha’s mineral resources is getting exposed despite all attempts to keep the episode of government promoted plunder unnoticed.
 

The Uliburu iron ore reserves in Keonjhar district of Odisha was being mined illegally by Dipak Gupta in connivance with the state and central government officials from 2004 to 2009, says Odisha government’s official reports. The mining operations were officially suspended in 2009 and state vigilance department probed into the illegality. Finally in 2014, state vigilance framed charge sheet.

Number of state and central government officials were booked, some were arrested and others still absconding, allegedly, under the patronage of the state vigilance department.

Many believe, attempts by the state government are on to dissolve the issue by suppressing the major facts and not to bring some of the prime accused involved in the mega scam into record.

One finds the reason to believe such from the fact that the report of the State Level Enforcement Squad (SLES), who had unearthed the mega scam and had reported to take actions against some government officials involved in the illegality, still lies with the present Director of Mines, Dipak Mohanty, without any action taken or being initiated.

The state vigilance however had only examined the Uliburu illegal mining chapter and had submitted the charge sheet. It had never inquired into the transportation of the rupees 1800 crores worth illegal iron ore through the private railway siding of Dipak Gupta, son of Haricharan Gupta (prime accused in illegal mining), at Hisaburu in Keonjhar, in the Odisha-Jharkhand border areas.

Through analysis of the periodical satellite images of Uliburu and Hisaburu villages of the years 2009, 2010, 2012 and 2013, it can be well observed that the operations continued at Uliburu even in 2012 though mining was officially suspended since 2009, by orders of the Deputy Director of Mines, Joda. The illegal iron ore was being dispatched regularly from the mines to Hisaburu private railway siding, well in the knowledge of the district level mining officials who also happened to be part of the scam.

Failure of all efforts, to stop illegal drainage of iron ore through the private railway sidings, made by the senior officials at Bhubaneswar headquarters suggested that the district level officials grossly violated the instructions of the senior officials and, against the orders and the interests of the state, allowed the ore to be transported, only to make huge pocket money.

 

Quotation starts

A set of communications between the Director of Mines and Deputy Director of Mines, Joda, copy of which is available with hotnhitnews.com, seeking report of action taken on basis of the SLES report suggests that the Director of Mines Deepak Mohanty was aware of the whole scam and involvement of big companies like Sesa Goa Ltd. (earlier known as Vedanta) among others in it.

Quotation ends

 

In a letter, number 4886, dated 31.07.2010, the then Secretary of Steel and Mines Department, Manoj Ahuja, issued a circular ordering 14 mining circle offices in Odisha to stop illegal dispatch of iron ore following the revised procedures for loading of ore at all railway sidings situated inside the state.

Clause C (ii) of the four page circular said, “Private railway sidings which are outside the lease area should be used to dispatch ore exclusively by the lessee to whom the siding belongs and in case there is a co-user agreement with different lessees to use the private sidings, the name of such lessees should be provided to the concerned Deputy Director of Mines/Mining Officer by the lessee to whom the private siding belongs. Only those lessees whose name has been communicated to the Mining authorities shall dispatch ore from such sidings following the prescribed procedure.”

Ignoring the circular, a few Deputy Director of Mines went on issuing trading licenses to the traders, who are neither lessees nor had they submitted any agreement to use the private siding of others. Deputy Director of Mines, Baripada Mining Circle in the district of Mayurbhanj, Lal Mohan Soren, had been suspended from service for violating the government circular. But in case of Umesh Chandra Jena, the Deputy Director of Mines, Joda Mining Circle, who completely defied the circular and issued several trading licenses to different companies to store iron ore at the Hissaburu private railway siding of Deepak Steel & Power Ltd for onward transportation through railways, no action has yet been initiated.

To cite an example, M/s Thakur Prasad Sao & Sons Pvt Ltd had been issued trading license No. 68283 on 15.12.2010 by DDM, Joda to store and dispatch iron ore by using private sidings of Deepak Steel & Power Ltd at Hisaburu, through which iron ore worth crores of rupees had been dispatched illegally. The company was neither a lessee nor any agreement between the both existed or produced.

A set of communications between the Director of Mines and Deputy Director of Mines, Joda, copy of which is available with hotnhitnews.com, seeking report of action taken on basis of the SLES report suggests that the Director of Mines Deepak Mohanty was aware of the whole scam and involvement of big companies like Sesa Goa Ltd. (earlier known as Vedanta) among others in it. Initially, he took the report on Hisaburu seriously and started acting on it. However, it is yet to be answered whether the steps initiated by the Director were just an eyewash or he was later pressurised by top bosses in the government to stop his actions in regard to Hisaburu.

Taking the advantage of the situation in the department, some senior officials had ventured for a cover up of the mega-scam. To highlight here is that the Director of Mines is not forwarding the Hisaburu investigation report to the government for action even after several reminders from the Principal Secretary of the Steel and Mines Department (Government of Odisha), R. K. Sharma. God knows why and by whose insistence the state vigilance is not putting its nose into the Hisaburu scam.

RTI activist Sanjaya Dagra, who applied for the reports and detail of action taken by the Government in regard to Hisaburu mining scam, has been denied under provisions of Sec 8(1)(h) of RTI Act citing that investigation by the state vigilance into the particular case is on.

It would be pertinent to mention here that, by the time the application was filed, the state vigilance had already submitted the final and supplementary charge sheet to the Keonjhar Vigilance court on 31.12.2013 and 24.06.2014 respectively. There is no mention of facts about Hisaburu railway siding in the charge sheet.

In another successful attempt to suppress the facts, senior officials in connivance with the Minister, Steel & Mines, Prafulla Mallick, had gone a step ahead and, even, misled the state assembly by omiting from a reply the facts on Hisaburu scam. While replying to a question about Hisaburu mining scam, raised by BJP MLA Pradip Purohit during the monsoon session - 2015 of Odisha State Assembly, the Steel and Mines Minister avoided citing important facts placed in the report of the State Level Enforcement Squad.

As Hisaburu has started hissing, the story of a mining scam of a much larger scale is being uncovered and the nexus between mining officials and looters of Odisha’s mineral resources is getting exposed despite all attempts to keep the episode unnoticed. Because it involves huge kickback and illegal interstate operations, and also because there is strong apprehension that the illegally earned money is stashed abroad as black money, a probe by the central investigating agency CBI can possibly expose the nexus, bring all facts to public, and save the existing mineral resources from further plunder. And, a demand for the same is gathering momentum.

[Author is Senior Associate Editor of HotnHitNews.Com.]

This is the third in a series of investigative reports on Hisaburu mining scam.

Read the other two reports:

HISABURU: An Undiscovered Mega Mining Scam in Odisha

 

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