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Ramakanta Biswas

Illegal extraction of coal, also called black diamond, is reportedly going on rampantly in Ghogharpali area of Rampia Coal Block in Sundergarh district for the past six months right under the nose of the mining department and police administration.

The mining mafia are allegedly extracting coal from the block illegally in day time and transport the mineral to the neighbouring Chhattisgarh under the cover of night.

When an OTV team made its way into Porajalanga forests and accessed the secret route through which the coal cargo are allegedly being transported illegally, hundreds of tonnes of coal were found extracted. However, none was found near the stock. 

Some residents in the vicinity claimed that when day turns into night several trucks and tractors would reach the site to transport the coal into the neighbouring state.

Sources said Porajalanga forests falls under Rampia coal block. The block was allocated to Western Coalfields Limited (WCL). As the WCL could not initiate extraction of coal due to land acquisition issues, mining mafias seized the opportunity and started extracting coal from the block. 

The coal extracted from the block is reportedly supplied to brick kilns and industrial units in neighbouring Chhattisgarh. Some locals said they face the wrath of the mining mafia if they raise their voice against the illegal activities. 

“The illegal mining is going on for the past six months. Labourers are engaged to extract coal. The mineral is loaded in trucks in the night and transported to other areas. They do not stop the illegal activities despite our complaints,” said Bikash Khamari, a resident of Ghogharpali. 

In 1992, nine coal blocks were identified in Sundergarh of which two were allocated to MCL while NTPC-OPTCL got one block. However, WCL could not start the mining operation due to land acquisition hurdles in the allocated Rampia Coal Block. 

When asked about the illegal coal mining, Sundergarh SP Sagarika Nath said, “A team has been formed to go after the illegalities. Two tractors and other items have been seized so far. Multiple raids have also been conducted. We are hopeful that the probe will progress and those involved will be arrested.”

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