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Mine officials to face music
Petrobangla Chairman Abul Mansur Md Faizullah yesterday said taking coal out of the Barapukuria coal mine yard would not have been possible if its staffers had not been involved in the act.
The employees of Barapukuria Coal Mining Company Ltd (BCMCL) responsible for 1.45 lakh tonnes of coal “going missing” would be made accountable, he told reporters after visiting the coal mine in Dinajpur.
A probe body would be formed to investigate the incident, he added.
Faizullah was among the four top officials who visited the coal mine and the nearby Barapukuria 525 MW coal-fired power plant yesterday. The three other officials are Bangladesh Power Development Board (BPDB) Chairman Khalid Mahmud, Power Division Secretary Ahmad Kaikaus and Energy Division Secretary Abu Hena Md Rahmatul Muneem.
Faizullah said BCMCL Managing Director Habib Uddin Ahmed, who was made an officer on special duty (OSD) after the incident came to light and later suspended, informed him on July 16 about insufficient stock of coal.
The following day, a Petrobangla director visited the coal mine yard and found insufficient coal, he mentioned.
According to mine officials, the coal stock was around 25,000 tonnes on July 16.
The Petrobangla chief said the BCMCL MD had been telling him about sufficient coal stock, but he gave wrong information which was an offence.
He said coal mine officials could not give “appropriate answer” to Petrobangla about the delivery of coal from its yard on April 22 flouting a decision of the BCMCL's board.
The board had decided not to sell coal from March 18.
Faizullah further said involvement of coal mine officials in an alleged trade over delivery order (DO) letter would be investigated.
He mentioned that production of coal at the mine would resume early in September. He said weekend and Eid-ul-Azha holidays of all the BCMCL staffers have been cancelled.
Energy Division Secretary Rahmatul Muneem questioned why the BCMCL officials didn't adjust it earlier if there was system loss in mining.
He termed giving wrong information about coal stock an offence.
Asked about the yearly audit report of the coal mine company, he said they would also check the auditor's report.
The secretary said they asked the BCMCL officials to resume mining as early as possible so that power generation at the power plant resumes at the earliest.
Power Division Secretary Ahmad Kaikaus said they were trying hard to resume power generation at the power plant.
“Had the power plant officials known about the shortage of coal earlier, they would have found alternative sources of coal for running the plant.”
He informed journalists that the power ministry was looking for some alternative sources of coal.
The secretary said although the power plant suspended production on July 22, the PDB was trying to manage the power supply across the country through load shedding. “We are trying to keep people's suffering at minimal level.”
Kaikaus said eight districts in Rangpur division would mainly suffer from load shedding and low voltage problems at peak hour (7:00pm to 10:00pm).
Abdul Hakim Sarkar, chief engineer of the power plant, said the four top officials had a meeting with the plant officials yesterday to discuss ways to resume its operation soon.
The BCMCL produced around 1.0166 crore tonnes of coal from 2005 to June 16 this year. The company sold 66.87 lakh tonnes to BPDB and 33.19 lakh tonnes to brickfield operators and other industries. Besides, the company itself used 12,000 tonnes of coal.
According to the coal mine company, its stock was 3,000 tonnes on July 22.
Anisur Rahman, manager (administration) of BCMCL, filed a case with Parbatipur Police Station on July 24 accusing 19 company officials of corruption.