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Mining scam file goes missing

Bhubaneswar, Dec. 5: An important file related to the multi-crore mining scam has gone missing from the state secretariat, a fortnight before Orissa High Court’s scheduled hearing of a bunch of petitions demanding a CBI inquiry into the scam.

The Rs 10,000 crore mining scam broke out last year after the Opposition raised a ruckus over illegal mining activities in Keonjhar district.

The steel and mines department yesterday lodged an FIR with the capital police in connection with the missing file. “We have received the complaint. The inquiry will start from Monday,” said a senior police officer.

The undersecretary of steel and mines department D.S. Jena, in her FIR, said that file number 3/08, related to the Balasore vigilance case number 59/09 regarding the leasing of manganese mines at Rudukela in Keonjhar district to S.N. Dasmohapatra, is missing from the office.

“Besides fixing responsibility in the matter, we will try to get all important documents from the district office and prepare a new file on the subject. It is going to be a strenuous job,” said a senior official of the steel and mines department.

Sources said that mine owner S.N. Dasmohapatra had allegedly set the state exchequer back by about Rs 55 crore by excavating 53,000 metric tonne of manganese ore from outside his lease area and exporting the same.

Dasmohapatra’s company had indulged in mining in the lease area of Rambahadur Thakur Mining Limited (RBTL).

Vigilance has already lodged cases against Dasmohaptra under 13(1-D), 13(2-D) of Prevention of Corruption Act, 420 IPC, 120(B), 21(1) and 23(2) of Mining Mineral Development Act. The chargesheet in the case was submitted in the Balasore vigilance court last week.

Director vigilance Anup Patnaik said: “We were aware from the beginning that important files were missing. We filed the chargesheet on the basis of the note sheets collected from the directorate of mines. It would have been better if we had got the original files. We will inform the government and try to find out who is behind this.”

Officials said that during the hearing of the case, the vigilance court may ask for the original files pertaining to the case.

“Apprehending that the files will be called by the vigilance court, someone from the department has taken them away. We are going to find out who the person is,” said a senior official of the department.

The vigilance has already chargesheeted several mining officials including former mines director R.N. Sahu in connection with the scam.

A chargesheet was also filed against RBTL officials Manish Mohan Sharma and Debendra Sharma. It was alleged that RBTL was operating in the state without a mining lease.

The state vigilance last week also chargesheeted another high profile mine owner Indrani Patnaik.

Vigilance sources said Indrani had engaged in illegal mining between 2006 and 2008 and excavated nearly 2,62,000 metric tonne of ore and exported it outside the state causing a loss of Rs 1,009 crore to the state.

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