February 3, 2021 5:04:12 am
A special 30-member team led by Central Bureau of Investigation’s Deputy Inspector General (DIG) Akhilesh Singh and Eastern Coalfield Limited (ECL) officials jointly inspected coal mines in south Bengal on Tuesday in connection with an ongoing probe into illegal coal mining in the Bengal and Jharkhand border areas.
The team inspected mines in Raniganj, Jamuria and Asansol, said sources. They said the team was trying to gather information about how coal was illegally smuggled all these years.
According to sources, with the help of experts, the team calculated the amount of coal illegally extracted in Jamuria. It is suspected that some influential people, including ECL officials, were on the payroll of the racketeers, the sources added.
A CBI Anti-Corruption Bureau team led by Akhilesh Singh last November raided the properties of the suspected kingpin of the illegal coal mining racket, Anup Majhi alias Lala, and his close aide Ratnesh Verma. The agency had earlier carried out raids in Asansol and the adjoining border areas.
In November, the searches were conducted at 45 locations in four states following the registration of a case against Majhi, who was suspected to be acting in collusion with two ECL general managers and three security personnel working for the company. According to sources, Majhi is also involved in illegal sand mining from the Damodar and Ajay river beds in West Bengal. Along with his aide, he started extracting coal illegally in the Durgapur-Asansol belt and slowly expanded to Dhanbad in Jharkhand. He owns properties worth crores of rupees in Bengal, Delhi and other places.
Sources said illegal coal worth crores are smuggled in these border areas. CBI officials were keeping a close eye in and around coal mines in Asansol, they added. The vigilance not only stopped illegal mining but is also helping the agency gain information about how the racket operated in the area, the sources said.
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