Odisha Sun Times Bureau
Keonjhar, Jul 8:
Three accused, including the prime accused, in the Rs 1,800 crore Uliburu mining scam appeared before the Special Vigilance court in Odisha’s Keonjhar town today.
The prime accused in the Uliburu mining scam Deepak Gupta, co-accused and suspended former Deputy Director Mines (DDM) of Joda mining circle Manas Ranjan Mohanty and then Mining Officer of Joda Satyabrata Rout today appeared before the Special Vigilance court Keonjhar.
While Mohanty was produced before the court as his judicial remand ended today, Rout was produced before the court as his bail period ended today. Gupta was produced in the court as part of the routine appearance.
Notably, the court has completed its hearing on Mohanty’s bail plea on July 3 and has kept its verdict reserved while extending his judicial remand till July 8 which 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 is worthwhile to mention here 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 had 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.