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Case filed over Barapukuria coal disappearance

  • Published at 10:36 am July 25th, 2018
Barapukuria coal mine
File photo of a section of the Barapukuria coal mine in Dinajpur Collected

The state minister for power and energy says Petrobangla never made any inventory since 2006, when the Barapukuria coal mine had started operating and supplying coal to the nearby power plant

A case has been filed against 19 officials of Barapukuria Coal Mining Company Limited (BCMCL), including its suspended managing director Habib Uddin Ahmed, in connection with the disappearance of 144,644 metric tons of coal from the mine.

Mohammad Anisur Rahman, BCMCL manager (administration), filed the case under sections 5(2) and 409 of the Anti-Corruption Commission Act with Parbatipur Model police station on Tuesday night.

The other accused include suspended secretary-cum-general manager (administration) Abul Quasem Prodhania, general manager (mine operation) ATM Nuruzzaman Chowdhury and deputy general manager (store) Khaledul Islam.

All the above officials were suspended after the disappearance of coal came to the fore.

It was mentioned in the first information report (FIR) that the officials, in connivance with each other, embezzled the coal worth around Tk230 crore from the mine.

The disappearance of coal came to light a few days back when a team from the Power Development Board (PDB) visited the coal mine and found that there was no adequate reserve of coal in the yard. 

As per the official investigation, the stock had a shortage of 144,644 metric tons of coal.

State minister: No inventory of Barapukuria coal since 2006

Petrobangla had never made an inventory of the supply of coal to the nearby Barapukuria power plant in 2006, since the beginning of the Barapukuria coal-mine operation, reports UNB quoting State Minister for Power and Energy Nasrul Hamid yesterday. 

He said this to newsmen after receipt of a probe report carried out by Petrobangla on a huge volume of missing coal from the Barapukuria coal mine.

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

"It seems all officials at the Barapukuria mine are involved in irregularities and corruption. Criminal cases will be filed against the wrongdoers," he told reporters at his Bangladesh Secretariat office.

"I received the probe report just now today (Wednesday). I'm yet to go through it. I have to study it and then I can make a comment", he said.

The unusual shortage in coal supply led to the forced shutdown of the Barapukuria power plant which triggered a huge power cut in the country's northern region.

The districts facing power crisis due to the shutdown of the plant are: Rangpur, Panchagarh, Nilphamari, Lalmonirhat, Kurigram, Gaibandha, Dinajpur and Thakurgaon as their power supply comes mainly from the Barapukuria plant.

Officials said the authorities were trying to ensure power supply to the districts from alternative sources in other districts -- Sirajganj, Khulna and Rajshahi.

Petrobangla has formed a three-member inquiry committee, headed by its director (mining) Quamruzzaman, to investigate the issue of the coal shortage and suspended a number of BCMCL officials.

On July 23, the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) also formed a three-member probe committee to look into the 'disappearance of coal' from the Barapukuria coal mine.

Officials said the shortage of coal was suddenly noticed a few days back when a team from PDB visited the coal mine and found that there was no adequate reserve of coal in the yard.

They found only 6,000 tons of coal reserved in the yard which would last for only 2-3 days.

The coal production in the Barapukuria coal mine was suspended for about one and half months under a program to change the mining shaft.

But BCMCL authorities assured the PDB that the supply of coal would be supplied from the reserved coal during the closure of the mine operation.

PDB officials said the power plant requires about 4,500 tons of coal a day when all the three units are in operation. But with two units shut down, only the third with a 275MW capacity was operating to a tune of 130MW.

The issue was immediately communicated to Petrobangla, they said.

Petrobangla top officials identified inconsistency in the coal reserve at the coal mine yard.