Bhubaneswar, Jan 2:
The investigation into the Rs 2,000 crore Uliburu mining scam in Joda of Keonjhar district moved one step forward with the state government on Wednesday allowing the Vigilance department to submit charge sheets against 11 officials, including three deputy directors of mines (DDMs).
However, the secretariat link in the grand scam is yet to be unravelled. Many questions remain to be answered. How could the mine operate illegally for ten long years before it was detected? How did the government provide it with necessary permission to operate? How could the departmental secretary and the director of mines remain unaware of it? Neither the Vigilance department nor the minister concerned is prepared to speak on these matters.
According to official sources, the role of three deputy directors Manas Mohanty, Madan Mohan Biswal and Routray Murmu was found to be suspect in the case. The Vigilance had raided their houses and later the government had ordered departmental proceedings against them.
The state government, while allowing the Vigilance to file its charge sheet against them on Wednesday, has also allowed filing of charge sheets against six mining inspectors, including Subash Chandra Barik, Ramesh Chandra Panda, Ramesh Chandra Mahalik and Suresh Chandra Sahoo. That apart, the Vigilance has been also allowed to file charge sheet against a senior surveyor and a Forest range officer, said official sources.
However, what is interesting and strange is that no action has been taken against those in the secretariat and Mines directorate under nose the loot of iron ore in the name of BK Mohanty Mines continued unabated for six long years between 2004 to 2009, though action has been taken against Mines and Forest officials.
Allegations had been levelled that the application for renewal had been tampered with just eight days before the lease for the mines was to expire. But it still not clear who exactly had tampered with the application. How was permission granted for excavation? What steps had the then mines director taken in this case?
Several such questions remain unanswered with Vigilance failing to throw light on any of them. No one is prepared to open their mouths on what role was played by the IBM officials when loot of iron ore continued from 2004 to 2009 on such a large scale.
What is baffling many is that the tehsildar and the district collector remained blissfully unaware of the illegality, which continued for six long years, despite the fact that 29 hectares out of the total of 36 hectares of forested area belonged to the Revenue department while 7 hectares belonged to the Forest department. The investigation by the Vigilance has failed to unravel these mysteries.