regular-article-logo Monday, 02 October 2023

Questioned by Enforcement Directorate, Hemant Soren springs maths

Jharkhand chief minister wrote to the ED assistant director, Deovrat Jha, urging the agency to refrain from making 'sensational statements' on illegal mining 'without ascertaining facts and figures'

Animesh Bisoee Jamshedpur Published 18.11.22, 03:40 AM
Hemant Soren addresses the media outside his residence in Ranchi on Thursday.

Hemant Soren addresses the media outside his residence in Ranchi on Thursday. Picture by Manob Chowdhury

Jharkhand chief minister Hemant Soren was on Thursday questioned by the Enforcement Directorate for over 10 hours in a money-laundering case linked to illegal mining, before which the JMM leader termed the federal agency’s charges baseless and part of a conspiracy to destabilise his government.

Soren reached the ED zonal office at Ranchi at 11.33am and left around 9.40pm.


Speaking to the media at his residence around 10.45am, Soren shared a letter he wrote to the ED assistant director at the Ranchi zonal office, Deovrat Jha, in which he urged the agency to refrain from making “sensational statements” on illegal mining “without ascertaining facts and figures”.

Soren, who heads the JMM-Congress-RJD alliance government in Jharkhand, began the letter by stating that he was determined to weed out illegal mining from the state and “welcomes any sincere and honest assistance in this regard from any agency. However, the purpose and objectives of your summon is unclear”.

The letter mentioned that since assuming office as chief minister in December 2019, “the royalty collection from stone mining has increased from Rs 270 crore in 2019-20 to Rs 360 crore in 2020-21 and Rs 382 crore in 2021-22” despite mining activities being adversely affected by the pandemic.

“Approximately 20 per cent of this royalty from stone mining comes from Sahibganj district. However, it appears from your statements that there is an illegal mining scam in Sahibganj of Rs 1,000 crore,” the letter stated.

It cited data available with the mining department that show that the total quantity of stone mined in Jharkhand in the last two years was about 9 crore MT, of which approximately 20 per cent was mined in Sahibganj.

The letter said that “to evade a royalty of Rs 1,000 crore in two years, over 8 crore MT of stone is required to be illegally mined in Sahibganj, that is four times the legally mined quantity. In order to transport over 8 crore MT of stones in two years, in excess of 20,000 rakes, or 33,00,000 trucks would be required as the capacity of each rake is about 4,000MT and each truck is about 25MT.”

The letter added: “Railway does not permit loading of rake without submission of mining/ mineral challan. It appears that you have not identified the loading of even a single rake without requisite challan as you have not taken action against any railway officer.”

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