Balco case: Chinese officials got bail on NREGS card holder’s surety

A Tribal National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (NREGS) card holder stood surety for the bail of three Chinese officials...

Written by Joseph John | Raipur | Published: August 20, 2010 1:49:01 am

A Tribal National Rural Employment Guarantee Scheme (NREGS) card holder stood surety for the bail of three Chinese officials of the Shandong Electric Power Construction Corp’s (SEPCO) arrested on charges of culpable homicide not amounting to murder and other offences in the Balco chimney collapse case.

The chimney had collapsed at the Balco plant near Korba leading to the death of 40 workers on September 23 last year. Wu Chunnan,Liu Gaoxuan,and Wang Weiquing — engineers of Chinese firm SEPCO —were subsequently arrested by the Korba police.

“A poor tribal,Indra Bhawan Singh — a NREGS card holder — of village Basibar village in Katghora Tehsil in Korba district is among the two people,who stood surety in a local court so that the SEPCO’s Chinese staff could get bail,” senior Congress legislator and former minister Mohammad Akbar told the media,releasing copies of bonds executed by the villagers and list of NREGA beneficiaries of Korba district. One Raju (32) of village Kuchena had provided the second mandatory surety for the Chinese officials with both producing Rs 50,000 bonds for each Chinese national.

“Similarly another accused — an engineer from Haryana who was booked by the police for allegedly tampering with evidence — got bail after another tribal villager Horidas,who is listed as living below the poverty line — (BPL) stood surety for him,“ Akbar pointed out.

Alleging that these poor tribals were either “coerced or misled” by someone to stand as sureties for Chinese Nationals unknown to them,Akbar said he has written a letter to External Affairs Minister S M Krishna and Union Law,Justice and Company Affairs Minister Veerappa Moily explaining the situation and requesting them to order a probe to find out who was behind this development.

Akbar said an appropriate action in this matter was necessary at a time when a debate was raging in the country over Union Carbide Corporation (UCC) former Chairman Warren Anderson jumping bail and leaving the country after the Bhopal Gas Disaster.

“BJP is raising a bogey over Anderson but its own government in Chhattisgarh is totally silent after influential industrialists are apparently trying to subvert the legal process by roping in poor tribal farmers as sureties for foreigners”,he alleged.

“For Anderson,a Union Carbide India Limited (UCIL) employee A N Kuruvilla stood surety. But in this case it is surprising that none of the officials of Bharat Aluminum Company Limited (Balco) or of Chinese firm SEPCO came forward to stand surety for them. Poor tribals were apparently persuaded to stand surety to Chinese nationals,who are not known to them. The intentions are certainly doubtful,” he added.

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