Himansu Shekhar Rout

The Rs 1800-crore Uliburu mining scam in Keonjhar is back in focus ahead of the upcoming elections with the Enforcement Directorate intensifying its investigation. Prime accused Deepak Gupta and his brother Champak Gupta deposed before the ED in Bhubaneswar on Monday. 

Two weeks ago, the ED team raided 12 locations in Kolkata and Odisha as part of its investigation into the mining scam. The ED  seized a luxury car, jewelleries worth Rs 1.24 crore, Rs 30 lakh cash and froze bank accounts with Rs 1.23 crore deposits.   

Sources said the ED has moved the PMLA court seeking to attach properties worth Rs 380 crore of the mining company. 

A look back at the Uliburu scam

Large-scale mining was carried out beyond the lease area of Uliburu mines under the Joda circle which had reportedly caused Rs 1800 crore loss to the State exchequer. Even minerals were extracted beyond permissible limits.

Former Steel and Mines Minister Rajanikant Singh had said that the Uliburu iron mines were leased out to BK Mohanty. 
Investigations revealed that 46,19,633 MT of iron ore worth Rs 856.93 crore was extracted from BK Mohanty mines between 2000 and 2010. 

However, taking into consideration the iron ore shipping challans, royalty and freight charges paid to the Government, the scam was pegged at Rs 1800 crore.

Prime accused Deepak Gupta used to hold the power of attorney for the Uliburu Mines which were originally leased out to BK Mohanty.

Gupta had unlawfully extracted iron ore outside the lease area – in 6-hectare Reserve Forest and 29-hectare of revenue forest which is under the Revenue department.

Following a hue and cry over the wanton loot of minerals, the Odisha government had ordered a vigilance probe into the Uliburu mining scam in June 2013 amid a growing demand for a CBI inquiry. Deepak was arrested by the State Vigilance sleuths on September 4, 2013, for his alleged involvement. Chargesheet was filed against 29 persons including the family members of Deepak.

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On August 8, 2023, the Keonjhar Vigilance court declared Deepak and four of his family members including Champak Gupta as proclaimed offenders.

Later, the Enforcement Directorate (ED) started probing the money trail in the scam and also attached property to the tune of about Rs 379 crore, owned by Deepak, in May 2015.

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