Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Keonjhar, Jul 2:
The Vigilance department of Odisha police today produced the co-accused in the Rs 1,800 crore Uliburu mining scam, suspended former deputy director of mines (DDM) of Joda circle Manas Ranjan Mohanty, before the special vigilance court at Keonjhar.
The prime accused in the case Deepak Gupta, now lodged in the Keonjhar jail, was also produced in the same court today.
While it was a routine appearance for Gupta, Mohanty was produced before the special vigilance court here for the first time after his judicial remand ended today.
Mohanty, who was absconding for nearly a year, was arrested by the Vigilance from the Unit VI area in Bhubaneswar on June 27 morning in connection with the multi-crore Uliburu mining scam.
It may be mentioned that on August 3 last year, the Special Vigilance Court of Keonjhar had declared five suspended Odisha Mining department officials— former DDM of Joda circle Manas Ranjan Mohanty, mining officer Ramesh Chandra Mahalik, Sisir Chandra Mohanty, Routray Murmu and Purna Chandra Patra— as absconders in the multi-crore Uliburu mining scam and asked them to appear personally by September 11, failing which their properties would be confiscated.
The Vigilance department has already filed charge sheets against 29 persons, including prime accused Deepak Gupta, in the special vigilance court in Keonjhar in connection with the multi-crore mining scam.
The state government had suspended 16 officials, including two officers of the Indian Forest Service (IFS), in connection with the Rs 1800 crore loot.
Deepak Gupta, who was operating the Uliburu iron ore mine, originally leased out to B K Mohanty, by virtue of a power of attorney, has been accused of violating forest and mining laws.
The mine has remained closed since 2009 after the government, hounded by the Opposition and media reports, decided to finally crack down on illegal mining operations in the area.
The reports of the Mines department suggest Gupta excavated huge amount of iron ore from the forest area by shifting the boundary pillars into adjacent reserve forest even after the validity of the mines lease expired in 2003.
The Enforcement Directorate (ED) has also slapped a money laundering case in the matter. The investigating agency has filed the case under provisions of the Prevention of Money Laundering Act (PMLA) and has attached properties worth over Rs 300 crores belonging to those involved in the scam.