Joda/Keonjhar: Amid allegations of illegal mineral mining, transportation and trade, the forest department has got its act together again. It has busted another racket involved in mineral trafficking in Keonjhar Saturday night.
According to the forest department sources, following directive from DFO Sayam Mallick, forest officials from Keonjhar, Champua and Barbil ranges seized three hyva trucks, an excavator complicit in mineral shifting and trade in Nayagad area. Three people involved in illegal mineral trade were arrested and are being interrogated about the involvement of others in the racket.
It was learnt that the three had illegally extracted iron ore from forest areas with the excavator.
Reliable sources said that this group was bringing and extracting iron ore from various forests and stocking it at Nayagad area. Then they were transporting the iron ore to other localities.
It has been alleged that illegal trade of iron ore has been rampant in Joda and Barbil areas. In the last one year, the forest department has detected many such cases in the district.
Various quarters have blamed the lethargy of the mines and police department. Such mineral loot has been happening despite formation of a district-level and a state-level task force of the mines department.
When asked about it, Joint Director of the Mines department Salil Behera said that he was not aware of the seizure and sought to know where it has happened.
It may be noted here that towards last week of January this year, a team of forest officials had seized a heavy vehicle carrying huge quantities of illegally mined manganese from Nayagad forest under Champua range.
Moreover, forest officials from Champua, Joda, Balibandh and Bamebari areas while conducting night patrolling in the night of January 12 had caught a truck with 35 tonne of high-grade iron ore.
Before that, some local youths had spotted piles of manganese in a bushy area in Joda police station.
The illegally mined manganese weighing over 10 tonne was covered under palm leaves amid bushes.