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Coal mining scam, 10,000 mafia groups

Written By Krishna on Thursday, March 22, 2012 | 2:34 AM

Rajya Sabha was adjourned twice on March 22 as the opposition demanded a debate on a coal mining scam the government auditor says has cost the exchequer Rs.10.67 lakh crore.

Opposition members demanded the suspension of question hour and a debate on the issue.

The Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG), in its draft report on coal mining in the country has accused the government of giving "undue benefits" to a number of companies leading to a loss of Rs.10.67 lakh crore to the exchequer.

Eastern Coalfields, a subsidiary of Coal India, on March 18 said illegal mining coupled with mafia operations at its mines is causing a loss of Rs 12 crore to it every month as production of about 40,000 tonnes is being hampered.

“Many productive mines ... have come to standstill. Due to continuous disruptions caused by the coal mafia and anti-social elements near Raniganj area in West Bengal, 40,000 tonnes of coal production is being hampered every month,” Eastern Coalfields Ltd (ECL) said in a statement.

“The amount of loss caused due to stopping of coal production can be very well judged through two mines of Narayankudi and North Seyarsole, where company is accounting a loss of Rs 120 million every month. The government is also incurring huge loss of revenue in the form of royalty,” ECL, which has operations in West Bengal and some parts of Jharkhand, said.

Warning that power crisis in the country may further aggravate, the company said less production has adversely affected the coal supply to the nearby power plants and industries.

The company said while mafia groups are indulged in illegal coal mining activities posing danger to several towns and villages, agricultural land and commercial establishments in the vicinity of these illegal mines, the illegal mining led to flooding of North Seyarsole mines during last monsoon, completely suspending production activities in the area.

“ECL, when tried to depute miners from these mines to other working collieries, had to face stiff resistance from the local groups. Still, the workers of these mines are not able to work in other mines due to the provocation of the agitating local groups,” a senior ECL official said.

The official added that mining operations have also come to a standstill at Narayankudi mines, which have a huge reserve of good quality of thermal coal.

“Illegal miners under the influence of local groups have been halting production on the plea of environment pollution and conservation of so called heritage building related to the Tagore family,” the statement said.

It added that the company had got all approvals from different agencies including the local bodies like Gram Panchayat, etc before starting mining operations.

It said ECL has already reported the matter of “forcible stopping of production and illegal mining” to the local administration a number of times and if the “situation is not controlled in time it may worsen the financial condition of ECL, which is already in losses”.

Earlier, Coal Minister Sriprakash Jaiswal has said his ministry is committed to eliminating coal mafia and bringing to an end its nexus with corrupt officials.

He had said the crackdown on coal mafia initiated by the Coal Ministry would continue and the drive would be intensified to weed the evil out from the system.

He had also said about 10,000 mafia groups operated in the country mostly concentrated in Coal India Limited collieries and the annual plunder is not less than 5 million tonnes to 6 million tonnes causing huge loss to the state exchequer.
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