Monday, August 17, 2015

Hisaburu: An Undiscovered Mega Mining Scam in Odisha

Hisaburu: An Undiscovered Mega Mining Scam in Odisha

Odisha Vigilance never inquired into the Hisaburu railway siding. Very lately the Director of Mines sent the State Enforcement Squad to Hisaburu for inquiry in 2013. After receiving the confidential investigation report of the squad the Director of Mines is still sitting on it and not forwarding it to the government for action since last one year. Bibhuti Pati  

This investigative report reveals Hisaburu's illegal headland heap. The heartstring of Hisaburu holds many top Forest and Mining officers hangdog. Hisaburu openly tells the tales of some forest and mining officials' hooligan acts. From the holler of Hisburu, it's clear that some of the top forest and mining officers hustle tons of minerals illegally in rails hackney-carriage. Hisaburu is the eye witness of this government's corrupt and hubris officers' humbug nature and hoodwink activities for the State. Hisaburu knows about these officials illegal hoarding but the Naveen's government is not ready to hear Hisaburu's howl and his officers hoodlums. When Hisaburu uttered about this the BJD government says its hogwash of Hisaburu! Hitherto- Hisaburu is another big story of a mega mining scam which is waiting for an investigation and justice.

On recapitulating the iron ore mining scam, the case of illegal mining at Uliburu, under Joda Mining Circle of Keonjhar, came to light. It was a scam of about 2000 crores, between 2003 and 2009 by help of a power of attorney given to Deepak Gupta by B.K.Mohanty to run his legally granted iron ore mines in the Uliburu village. The B.K.Mohanty mines had been granted for mining for 20 years starting from 13.12.1983 till 12.12.2003.

No mining took place during 20 years of the valid lease period. After expiry of the lease in 2003, the Power of Attorney holder Deepak Gupta applied for renewal and fraudulently managed to run the mines from 2004 to 2009 as deemed renewal condition in connivance with the government officials without any statutory clearance and by shifting the Uliburu reserve forest pillars and extracting 47,48,826 MT of iron ore that caused loss of thousands of crores of rupees (appx.Rs.839, 67, 11,748/-) to the state exchequer.

the state government, Under media pressure, engaged Vigilance department to inquire on basis of the fact that was long suppressed by the government. Even the Justice Shah Commission was kept in dark about the huge scam. Though the state vigilance submitted charge sheet against Gupta at Keonjhar vigilance court on 31.12.2013 and 24.06.2014, inquiry is still incomplete. But there is no reference of the Hisaburu railway siding situated at a distance of 5 KM from the illegal Uliburu mines, which worked as the gateway to dispatch iron ore by railway rakes.

From investigation, it was found that in a very well planned way the Guptas, in connivance with the government officials, made way to dispatch ore.

The father of Deepak Gupta, Haricharan, was the Director of Deepak Steel and Power Ltd. (DSPL) and was running two Sponge Iron units – one at Uliburu (4 KM from the illegal Uliburu mines) and another inside the granted R.P.Sao iron ore mines under Joda Mining Circle. The South Eastern Railways had allowed DSPL for private siding, under control of Badjamda Station Master in Jharkhand by special circular No. – RG 46/4353 dt. 2/3/2007.

Subsequently on November 15, 2008, Haricharan Gupta applied in Form 'A' for trading and storing license at Hisaburu railway siding without mentioning any plot number. This was dealt by Purna Patra, the then DDM, Joda, in the official file No. - 60 VA – 542/2008. Patra, the DDM granted storing license No.68867 to Haricharan Gupta i.e. DSPL for two years wef. 27/10/2008 to 26/10/2009 to store iron ore and onward dispatch by railway only.

DSPL was operating the transactions without clearance from Odisha Pollution Control Board. Only on 11/11/2009 that the Regional Officer, State Pollution Control Board, Keonjhar, granted the Consent to Operate till 10/12/2009, vide Letter No. 1477/10/12/2009, with condition for necessary pollution control measures. After this, no compliance was made. Again the RO, SPB granted consent on 24/4/2010 to operate till 31/3/2011. No further consent to operate was given. All the transactions were made without valid environment and pollution clearance.


Quotation starts

During investigations, author sought answer to the following questions from the Director of Mines, Dipak Mohanty, which remained unanswered even after 30 days. The author, while submitting this piece, claims to have visual evidence of how Mr. Mohanty refused to answer him.

The Unanswered Questions,

asked to Dipak Mohanty, Director of Mines

1. On Oct 28th 2008 the storing license was granted to Dipak Steel & Power at the Hisaburu private railway siding by the Patra, DDM,Joda.In the monthly return filed by the licensee it is seen that the opening balance was 1,43,000 tons of iron ore of various sizes. How is it possible?

2. Your District Level Squad raided the Hisaburu siding of Deepak Steel and Power in Oct 2009 and found that the documents are not valid for mineral transaction. Accordingly the Patra, DDM,Joda (PCPatra)suspended the license on 27/10/2010 .After that another DDM (UCJena) joined and without going for any recovery of penalty and compounding money, re-suspended the license in the file. What is the reason of re-suspension? Had the DDM Jena approached the Director for approval of the compounding?

3. Without revocation and realisation of penalty and compounding money the same license was renewed in Oct 2010 by DDM, Joda U.C.Jena. How it was possible?

4. The licensee after suspension on Oct 2009 had deposited the un-approved compounding and penalty money worth 4/5 lakhs in shape of bank draft with DDM Joda P C Patra. The same BD was lying at Joda office for 2010, 2011 & 2012 and lastly it was revalidated and encashed only at a later part of 2013 0r 14.The compounding has not been approved. What is the reason?

5. The licensee had been allowed by U. C.Jena DDM Joda to transact ore even during the suspension period, i.e., Oct 2009 till the date of its renewal on Oct 2010, which can be seen from the monthly returns submitted. During this period the U. C. Jena DDM Joda has knowingly allowed the illegal ore trafficking of around 2/3 lakhs tons,mostly from the Uliburu illegal pit. What action you have taken against the Jena DDM Joda?

6. As the Director you had made sufficient enquiry on this matter - through your state level enforcement squad and had written 4 to 5 letters enclosing the report of the squad to Sahu DDM Joda for further examination, over past two years. Have you taken any actions? OR have you apprised the government about the facts? It relates heavy financial loss to the state exchequer.

7. Lastly the licensee had installed one crusher and screening plant at the siding illegally. Now it has been removed by the licensee. How was it possible when the license had been granted for storing of ore for onward transportation by railway?

The reply of the Director of Mines was that it is an old case and he does not remember. Anyhow he received the questionnaire and assured the answer will be made within a month. But no answer till date.

Quotation ends


DSPL submitted first monthly returns for October 2008 in Form-E to Joda Circle wherein a quantity of 1,43,959 MT of iron ore was shown as the opening balance. How did it happen? No answer from DDM, Joda.

Also the DSPL submitted monthly returns from October 2008 to June 2009 showing that it had procured iron ore of 4,62,967 MT from Jharkhand state and dispatched. Only in 2014, DDM, Joda had written several letters to the railway for ascertaining this transaction. But they all remained un-answered till today.

Also DSPL had installed a screening plant at Hisaburu railway siding illegally. The monthly returns from October 2008 to February 2009, submitted by DSPL to Joda Circle Office, show that they had screened iron ore and had dispatched 57,298 MT of sized ore through railway rakes. When the license was granted for storing and not for processing, DDM, Joda had not issued permits against this dispatch. So, this is totally illegal procurement from the mafias operating illegal pits inside jungle. If calculated at the minimum price of OMC i.e. Rs.5000/- per ton, the loss that the government had suffered is at least Rs.2364 crore.

On 14/10/2009, a joint inspection was conducted at the DSPL Hisaburu railway siding by the Mining Inspectors and Mining Officer Joda, Officers from Pollution Control Board Keonjhar and Commercial Tax Dept. The then mining officer, Joda seized about 41,000 tons of iron ore on the spot. The irregularities of DSPL came to light. On basis of the joint inspection, DDM Joda, Purna Patra, suspended the DSPL license No.  68867, vide letter No.49133 dt.27/10/2009, and asked a show cause. The DSPL replied to the show cause on dt.29/10/2009.

On 21/11/2009, DDM Patra examined the reply and ordered to impose a penalty of Rs. 25,000/- and to realize the cost price of excess iron ore found at the time of inspection  from DSPL. As per rule the cost price realization means compounding and it has to be approved by the Director Of Mines. No such approval from the Director of Mines had been taken.

The Daily Revenue Collection Register (18 Mines Register ) maintained by the Joda circle office and its abstract at Directorate of Mines from 2008 to 2013 show that the recovery of penalty and cost of excess ore have not been realized till 2013 by DDM Joda.

The DDM Joda, Purna Patra proceeded on long leave in the month of November 2009. The Mining Officer remained in charge of the Circle office for few days till Umesh Chandra Jena joined as the DDM Joda.

The license of DSPL was under suspension since dt.27/10/2009 and there was no revoke of suspension, but the dispatch and procurement of iron ore by DSPL was continuing and the DDM Joda was issuing permits to this effect. Again the DSPL applied for the renewal of license on 26/07/2010 and interestingly DDM Jena opened a new file NO.60VA-579/2010 and processed for the renewal putting aside the original file No.60VA-542/2008. This was only to suppress the illegality of DSPL documented in the original file. The whole of Joda Mining Circle Office co-operated Haricharan Gupta and, taking advantage of it, DDM Jena renewed the storing license of DSPL on 29/09/2010, which was effected from 27/10/2010 to 26/10/2012. How was it possible without revocation of suspension and realization of penalty and compounding money?

During the suspension period till illegal renewal of license (dt.27/10/2009 to 26/10/2009), DSPL had procured 3, 31,546 MT and dispatched 3, 81,906 MT of iron ore. Total 22 numbers of permits had been issued by DDM U.C.Jena to DSPL within the suspension period. After the renewal of DSPL license, wef 27/10/2010, more permits had been issued by DDM Jena in favour of DSPL.

Though the illegal Uliburu mines operated by Deepak Gupta was suspended by Purna Patra the then DDM Joda vide Letter No. 50191/Mines/dt.06.11.2009, father of Dipak Gupta, Hari Gupta, operated the Hisaburu railway siding in the name of DSPL. The illegal production of iron ore was stopped. But without any permit the evacuation of iron ore from the illegal Uliburu mines continued through Hisaburu railway siding. Amazingly Joda DDM U.C.Jena went a step forward in co-operating the illegality and issued permit No.1929/dt.23.01.2010 in favour of DSPL for transport of 889.624 (size iron ore 5-18) tons of iron ore from Hisaburu railway siding to Uliburu sponge iron plant, which was struggling for raw material because of suspension of Uliburu mines.

The lifeline of the iron ore transportation from Uliburu mines to Hisaburu railway siding was a new route discovered and developed by the Guptas. It is through the Belkundi Reserve Forest and inside the granted iron ore mines of OMDC. The 5 KM long forest road had been widened by felling at least 200 numbers of average 5 feet girth Sal trees illegally. The OMDC as a Central Govt. undertaking company had objected to it. But the then DFO Keonjhar Pradeep Raj Karat had overruled the objections raised by OMDC. Plying of loaded vehicles had been allowed by DFO Karat. The state vigilance has only booked Karat in the Uliburu mines case, where mining was done inside the Uliburu Reserve Forest by shifting the forest boundary pillars.

The vigilance has submitted supplementary charge sheet No.06/2014 at the Keonjhar Vigilance Court on 24/6/2014 wherein the document recovery point no.13 and 14 indicate that the tour diary of Karat confirms his visit to the illegal reserve forest road where huge transportation of iron ore was continuing (2004 to 2009). It reveals that Karat was having knowledge about the ongoing illegal forest and mining activities. The vigilance had also mentioned in the charge sheet that the prime accused Deepak Gupta had been interrogated and had admitted that DFO Karat allowed him to transport the iron ore from illegal Uliburu mines to Hisaburu railway siding and to his father's sponge iron plant situated at Uliburu village, using the forest road inside the Belkundi reserve forest.

Despite the above stated facts, vigilance never inquired into the Hisaburu railway siding. Very lately, the Director of Mines sent the State Enforcement Squad to Hisaburu for inquiry in 2013. After receiving the confidential investigation report of the squad, the Director of Mines is still sitting on it and not forwarding it to the government for action since last one year. Reasons are best known to him. Only the DM is killing time in a bureaucratic way by forwarding the report to the DDM Joda for examination and views, which is not at all warranted. The DDM Joda Satyanand Sahu had also complied the letters of Director of Mines 4 - 5 times during the last year.

Justice Shah Commission of inquiry on Illegal Mining in the State in its final report submitted to the Hon'ble Supreme Court had also praised the inquiry report of State Level Enforcement Squad on Uliburu and had suggested for CBI enquiry as the government officials and the State Govt. and the illegal miners were in connivance causing heavy loss to the state and environment.

But, so far, no significant action has been initiated either by the state or the central government in this direction. And now, as the story of a bigger scam in Hisaburu is being unearthed, it's to be seen if the government seriously deals with the scamsters to save its face or takes all measures to cover it up in the guise of action.

[Author is Senior Associate Editor of HotnHitNews.ComViews given are personal to the author and are not endorsed by HotnHitNews editorial.]

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