Transit Loss or theft of Coal?


The Anti-Corruption Branch of Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), Lucknow, on Saturday unearthed a racket that siphoned off coal consignments from goods trains and later sold it into the coal markets of Varanasi and Chandauli.
According to the CBI, a former BJP minister Markandey Chand was running the coal mafia. The CBI team also raided the offices of Markandey's son Chandra Prakash and grandson Narendra Chand and seized fake lorry receipts and two firearms. Narendra's sons Vishnu and Niranjan were arrested from the office.
Three goods trains carry coal consignments from National Coal Field Ltd (NCL) at Sonbhadra, a subsidiary of the Coal India Limited, to power plants at places like Obra and Kota every day.
In a joint operation with the Varanasi police and Railways Vigilance team, the CBI caught the labourers offloading the coal from a train in Sonbhadra in the wee hours of Saturday. The guard and the driver made the train halt at the earmarked place for over 25 minutes without any reason.
The agency seized coal worth over Rs 7 lakh and seized six fully loaded trucks and trolleys and seven half-loaded trucks from the spot. The CBI DIG, Pankaj Srivastava, said: "A former minister of Uttar Pradesh during the BJP government, Markandey Chand, and his relatives constitute a coal mafia syndicate and have been running the racket for several years. The racket has caused the NCL a loss of over hundreds of crores of rupees so far."
"Markandey's son Chandra Prakash and his greatgrandsons, Niranjan and Vishnu Pratap, have been arrested and the driver and the guard of the train have been taken into custody," the DIG said.
A CBI team was on trail of the gang after it received the tip-off that the gang, in connivance with the guards and the drivers, offloaded coal from the trains, when they stopped between the NCL outlet and railway stations of Anpara and Ambedkar Nagar.
The gang engaged up to 400 labourers to unload the coal in the illegal dumping yards close to the rail tracks. After the trains moved ahead, the stolen consignment was loaded in trucks and trolleys and taken to the Varanasi coal market, where one truck-full of coal was sold between Rs 65,000-80,000. The Chand family used to produce fake receipts of the coal consignments to get it sold legally in the market, said the CBI. The agency said the gang used to load nearly 20 such trucks from the trains every night.
The DIG said the racket was never detected so far because the quantity of the coal was not recorded when the trains used to leave the NCL outlet. Some NCL staff probably also connived with the gang as no suspicion was ever raised over the coal quantity when the trains were unloaded at the power plants.
Markandey and his nephew Abhishek had earlier been jailed for the murder of former BJP MP and coal tycoon Laxmi Narayan Mani Tripathi. He was shot dead at his Lucknow residence on June 19, 2005 and the police had arrested Chands the next day from Gorakhpur. Chandra Prakash was the main accused in the case. A rivalry over coal business was alleged to be the motive for the murder.
Express News Service
PSEB is also suffered losses on account of Transit loss every year appox 2-3 % amounting to Rs 60-70 crore .

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