Just vanished: Barapukuria coalmine corruption case
12:00 AM, July 21, 2018 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:49 PM, July 21, 2018

Just vanished

Over 1.42 lakh tonnes coal 'go missing' from Barapukuria coal mine; 4 top officials face the music

The managing director and a general manager of Barapukuria Coal Mining Company Ltd (BCMCL) have been withdrawn after around 1.42 lakh tonnes of coal, worth over Tk 227 crore, reportedly went missing. 

Petrobangla, the parent organisation of the BCMCL, has also suspended another general manager and a deputy general manager in this connection.

Habib Uddin Ahmed, who became the BCMCL MD in April last year, has been made officer on special duty (OSD) and attached him to Petrobangla and Abul Kashem Prodhania, a general manager and the company secretary, has been stand released and attached to Pashchimanchal Gas Company Ltd in Sirajganj. 

The suspended officials are Abu Taher Md Nur-Uz Zaman Chowdhury, general manager (mine operation), and Khaledul Islam, deputy general manager (store).

The four is facing further action for their negligence in duty, said a BCMCL official.

The company should have a coal stock of around 1.42 lakh tonnes at its coal yard, but there is not a single tonne of fresh coal now there, said a BCMCL general manager, citing official documents.  

The current market price of coal is Tk 16,000 a tonne, said Md Anisuzzaman, deputy general manager (marketing) of the company. 

The matter of “missing” coal came to light on Monday when Abu Sayeed, a board member of BPDB, visited the coal mine.  

The coal production of BCMCL has remained suspended for more than a month as the equipment and machinery is being shifted from one coalface underground to another, which is time-consuming. Production is expected to resume at the end of next month, said a general manger.

The coal crisis is likely to affect the power generation of Barapukuria 525MW Power Plant, a coal-fired power plant near the BCMCL run by Bangladesh Power Development Board (BPWB).

Around 4,500 tonnes of coal are needed at the plant every day, said Abdul Hakim, chief engineer of the plant.

Power generation at two units -- 125MW each -- of the plant has already stopped due to coal crisis. Another 275MW unit cannot run in full swing for the crisis, he said.

Power generation at the third unit can come to a halt anytime, said a plant official.

The BPDB is the biggest coal consumer of BCMCL for generating power. 

A three-member committee, headed by Md Kamruzzaman, director (operation and mines) of Petrobangla, has been formed to investigate the incident. 

Ayub Khan Chowdhury, director (planning) of Petrobangla, has taken charge of BCMCL managing director as his additional responsibility, said ABM Kamruzzaman Chowdhury, a general manager of BCMCL.

As the four officials never informed the high-ups of Petrobangla about the current coal stock of BCMCL, the Petrobangla told the BPDB that they had sufficient coal stocks for operating the power plant, said a BCMCL official.

Contacted, Abul Kashem Prodhania claimed that they had informed the high-ups and refuted the allegation of negligence. 

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