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Vigilance nails mining scam

Even as the illegal mining issue in Keonjhar district continues to rage, the state vigilance directorate has decided to file
criminal cases soon against a number of government officials who were allegedly involved in scam involving private company Raj Bahadur Thakur Limited, officials said on Saturday.

The state vigilance, which on Friday submitted to the state government a preliminary report confirming illegal mining and smuggling of iron and manganese ores from Rudukela and Katasahi in Keonjhar district, is currently engaged in the process of identifying the "real culprits" behind the illegal activities involving RBTL, officials said. "We have got the names of a number of government officials. It will take a few more days to identify the officials who are involved in this case," a vigilance source said.

According to vigilance wing's progress report, illegal mining had been found at the mines, for which RBTL had applied lease in 1994, as well as adjacent areas, including forest land. Vigilance sources revealed that the illegal activities had taken place with support from some officials of the state mines and forest departments.

Meanwhile, the state BJP, which blew the lid off the alleged Rs 4000 crore scam during the recent Budget session, said the vigilance findings had proved that the allegations being made by the party were correct. "The vigilance report is praiseworthy. But considering the magnitude of the scam and the possible involvement of political and other bigwigs, we demand that the CBI inquiry into the matter," state BJP president Suresh Pujari told a press conference.

Pujari maintained the RBTL scam was just the "tip of the iceberg" and indicated that the "kingpin" of the scam was a member of the ruling BJD. He, however, refused to name anyone and dared chief minister Naveen Patnaik to "prove his claims of honesty" and hand over the case to the CBI.

Source: TOI


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