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Barapukuria coal scam: 4 accused face travel ban, Petrobangla boss grilled

  • Published at 10:14 pm July 24th, 2018
File photo of the coal-powered Barapukuria thermal power plant in Dinajpur Dhaka Tribune

The Barapukuria thermal power plant was shut down on Sunday due to an acute coal shortage

The government has issued a travel ban on four officials of Barapukuria Coal Mining Company Limited (BCMCL) over the disappearance of 142,000 metric tons of coal from a mine in Dinajpur.

The accused are BCMCL Managing Director Md Habib Uddin Ahmed, Company Secretary (GS Administration) Md Abul Quashem Pradhania, Mining Department General Manager ATS Nuruzzaman Chowdhury, and Deputy General Manager Md Khademul.

Habib has been withdrawn by Petrobangla, while Quashem was transferred to the Pashchimanchal Gas Distribution Company Ltd. The rest face suspension.

Anti-Corruption Commission Deputy Director Md Shamsul Alam, who is heading a three-member probe body formed over the incident, sought the travel ban in a letter to the Immigration and Passports Department yesterday.

The other members of the probe committee are Deputy Director ASM Sazzad Hossain and Assistant Director Tajul Islam. The anti-graft watchdog's Director Kazi Shafiqul Alam is supervising the investigation, according to ACC sources.  

Also Read- ACC finds coal gone from Barapukuria

Meanwhile, the team interrogated Bangladesh Oil Gas and Mineral Resources Corporation (Petrobangla) Chairman Abul Mansur Md Faizullah at the Petrobangla office in Karwan Bazar, Dhaka, and collected some important documents related to Barapukuria coal mine.

The interrogation, which came two days after the Barapukuria thermal power plant was shut down, lasted for around two hours, ACC sources said.

Earlier in the day, the ACC team also visited the Bangladesh Power Development Board (BPDB) office in the capital, where they spoke to BPDB Chairman Khaled Mahmood. 

Saiful Hasan Chowdhury, director of the public relations wing at BPDB, said the organization had nothing to do with the coal scam despite the ACC team’s visit.

“As such, the visit can be described as just a courtesy call on our chairman,” he said.

Also yesterday, an investigation team from Petrobangla, led by its Director (Operation & Mines) Md Kamruzzaman, inspected the mine in Dinajpur.

Also Read- Barapukuria power plant shut down after 142,000 tons of coal disappear

Kamruzzaman told the Dhaka Tribune that the team was working hard to submit their findings in the shortest possible time. Sources at ACC said the probe committee may also inspect the coal mine in question. 

On Monday, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina ordered that those responsible for the disappearance of the coal be brought to justice as soon as possible. She made the statement while chairing a special meeting at the secretariat, according to State Minister for Energy and Power Nasrul Hamid Bipu.

The Barapukuria thermal power plant has three units. The largest unit, with a capacity of 275MW, was shut down on Sunday, while the other two units, each with a capacity of 125MW, were shut down earlier.  

The units were all shut down due to a shortage of coal, as 142,000 tons of coal meant for the power plant had disappeared.

On Monday, a local ACC team led by Deputy Director Benazir Ahmed visited the mine and found the coal missing. It has been alleged that the coal, worth around Tk227 crore, was illegally sold from Barapukuria coal mine.