About 5.48 lakh tonnes of coal was misappropriated from the yard of state-run Barapukuria Coal Mining Company Ltd (BCMCL) in the name of system loss in 13 years since 2005, said an investigation commission.
The loss was shown to have been occurred at various stages of production, handling and marketing, said the commission formed by the Consumers Association of Bangladesh (CAB).
The six-member commission, led by eminent columnist Syed Abul Maksud, yesterday revealed these findings at a press conference at the Dhaka Reporters Unity.
Other members of the commission are architect Mubasshar Hussain, Prof Badrul Imam, Prof MM Akash, Prof Susanta Kumar Das and Prof M Shamsul Alam.
Earlier, the BCMCL authorities claimed that some 1.44 lakh tonnes of coal disappeared from its yard.
However, the commission said the actual amount of misappropriated coal was 5.48 lakh tonnes.
Although the commission didn't officially make any estimate about how much the scam was worth, several members of the commission after the briefing told The Daily Star that the government had to incur a loss of several hundred crores of taka due to the swindle.
At the briefing, Syed Maksud said they would hand over their report to the CAB, and then CAB would submit it to the government.
On July 21, 2019, Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) pressed charges against 23 officials of BCMCL, including seven former managing directors, in a case filed over misappropriation of over 1.43 lakh tonnes of coal.
The estimated market price of the coal is over Tk 243 crore which was embezzled between January 2006 and July 19, 2018.
The matter came to light on July 17, 2018, when a board member of Bangladesh Power Development Board (BPDB) visited the BCMCL coal yard of to find out whether it had enough reserve to help run the three units of Barapukuria coal-fired power plant.
The plant, with a combined capacity of 525 megawatts, had to be shut down due to the coal crisis. The state-run BPDB is the biggest coal consumer of BCMCL.
The coal yard was supposed to hold 1,47,000 tonnes in July 2018 but only 3,000-tonne coal was found.