A Dinajpur court yesterday rejected bail applications of 22 Barapukuria Coal Mining Company Limited (BCMCL) officials, including its six former managing directors, and sent them to jail in a case over the disappearance of 1.45 lakh tonnes of coal from the mine.
Special Judge Mahmudul Karim of the District and Sessions Judge's Court passed the order after the accused appeared before it seeking bail, said Court Inspector Israfil Hossain.
On July 24, 2018, Md Anisur Rahman, manager (admin) of BCMCL, filed the case with Parbatipur Police Station against 19 officials of the coal mine in Dinajpur. After investigation, the Anti-Corruption Commission pressed charges against 23 BCMCL officials, including seven MDs, over the coal scam.
Of them, Mahbubur Rahman has died recently, said court sources.
On October 16, 2019, all the charge-sheeted accused appeared before the court seeking bail. The court granted bail to all but two, including the official who was the MD when the scam came to light. The two, however, secured bail about a month and a half later.
Speaking to The Daily Star earlier on the missing coal, Habib Uddin Ahmed, the MD, claimed that it was a system loss, which was never taken into consideration since the coal production began in 2005.
According to mine officials, the coal which disappeared was worth around Tk 230 crore. The missing coal affected power generation of Barapukuria 525MW coal-fired power plant for around 53 days, they said.
After the scam was revealed, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina asked the authorities to investigate the incident and find out those responsible.
THE CASE STATEMENT
According to the case statement, a small volume of coal was extracted from the mine during the roadway development of the coal mine before 2005. Some of it was sold, while the rest was stockpiled.
Since September 10, 2005, the Barapukuria Coal Mine Company began commercial exploration and maintained the stock record by adding the previous stock with the freshly extracted coal.
The development of the mine began in 2001. Between 2001 and July 19, 2018, some 1,01,66,042.33 tonnes of coal were explored. Of that, about 66,87,029 tonnes were supplied to the power plant while 33,19,280.37 tonnes were sold to various private companies. Another 12,088.27 tonnes were used at the mine's boiler (for internal use such as for air conditioners, heating system etc).
On July 19, 2018, there should have been a stock of 1,47,644 tonnes, but there were only 3,000 tonnes, said the case statement.
This means, there was a deficit of 1,44,644 tonnes worth about Tk 230 crore, it added.
It appears that some of the accused in the case may have long been involved in the theft of the coal in connivance with the previous managements, the case statement read.