Is CID investigation into coal syndicate right on track?
GUWAHATI: Coal never changes its colour. This saying, it seems, applies to coal traders and the alleged nexus behind them as well. The government is firm to wipe out the illegal coal trade.
The people of the State have every reason to doubt if the investigation into the alleged coal syndicate is in the right direction. Seizure of coal-laden trucks from various parts of the State is almost an everyday affair. Even as the CID has been entrusted with the investigation for over a year now, the masterminds behind the syndicate raj have not been exposed as yet.
It was one-and-a-half-year back when allegations against coal syndicate came to the fore. At that time, the State government was prompt enough to hand over the investigation to the CID. So much so that, an additional SP-level CID officer was entrusted with the investigation. Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal was on record saying that he was not going to compromise on the coal syndicate. Initially, the investigation was prompt in Tinsukia and the Barak Valley districts.
However, the people of the State are not aware of the progress made into the investigation. For the past six months or so, the investigation, it seems, has lost much of its steam. Significantly, the Additional SP-level CID officer has been removed from the investigation with a Deputy SP-level officer. Making inroads into the alleged high-level nexus behind the coal syndicate is next to impossible for a DSP-level officer. Coal traders being blessed by a section of top-level politicians and police officers is an open secret in the State.
In was in October 2017 the Additional Chief Secretary of Geology and Mining had written to the State DGP regarding the illegal mining of coal in Tinsukia district requesting him to instruct the Tinsukia SP to stop that. Strangely enough, illegal mining is still going on in Tinsukia district.
In December 2018, the Department of Geology and Mining lodged an FIR in Margherita police station regarding illegal mining of coal in the district and seeking action against mining in and around Margherita. The department also requested the DCs and SPs of Tinsukia, Karbi Anglong and Dima Hasao to stop illegal mining of coal in their respective districts.
Initially, there was a mild slowdown in mining, but now everything is back to square one. Coal-laden trucks ply every day under the very nose of the police. When there is vigorous checking on NH-37, they opt to transport coal through the North Bank and revert to NH-37 when the situation is conducive for them.
The moot question is: if all the parties concerned – the State Government and the investigating agency – are really alert, how come illegal movement of coal continues unabated in the State?
Also read: Illegal coal mining continues