Uliburu mining scam: 3 more forest officials face action

Bhubaneswar: More skeletons keep tumbling out of the cupboard of Rs 1,800-crore Uliburu mining scam with the state government taking disciplinary action against three more forest officials including two Indian Forest Service (IFS) officers for their alleged complicity in the mining loot.
 
The IFS officials who on Tuesday faced suspension are – Pradeep Raj Karat (1992 batch) and Sarat Kumar Mohanty (2000 batch). Besides, Kartikeswar Mohanty, currently working as assistant conservator of forests (ACF, Bhanjanagar Plan Division) has also been placed under suspension.
 
With this the number of officials, from both Steel and Mines, and Forest department, against whom action has been initiated has reached to 18.  Earlier, the State government had decided to take action against 14 officials, seven each from both the departments.
 
Officials said Karat, who is currently posted as Principal Chief Conservator of Forests (Wildlife), was working as Divisional Forest Officer (DFO) in Keonjhar district during 2006-2009, the period of the mine loot. Similarly Mohanty, the present Deputy Co-ordinator with the World Food Programme had served as DFO, Keonjhar during that time. ACF Mohanty was working as a range officer in Joda circle (Keonjhar district) where the scam was reported.
 
Besides, the State government has also directed the forest department to initiate departmental proceedings against Range officer Dillip Beura, who is already placed under suspension in a separate case.
 
Meanwhile, the vigilance wing of State police, have arrested original lease holder of Uliburu iron ore mines B K Mohanty in connection with the multi-crore scam and registered criminal cases against 18 persons including the mines attorney holder Deepak Gupta.
 
However, the prime accused, Gupta and four of his family members who are on the run after the scam surfaced, have been declared by the court as proclaimed offenders. The court has also asked them to appear before the special judge (vigilance), Keonjhar, before September 12.
 
It may be noted that B K Mohanty had transferred the ownership of the lease to Deepak Gupta, the managing director of Deepak Steel and Power, via power of attorney. 
 
Investigations revealed that iron ore was unlawfully extracted outside the original lease area – in 6 hectare Reserve Forest and 29 hectare revenue forest which is in possession of the Revenue department.