Barbil: In last two weeks, back-to-back seizure of illegally extracted minerals has brought to the fore the fact that illegal mining of minerals has not been stopped in various areas of Keonjhar district despite many preventive measures being taken by the mines department.
A few days ago, forest officials of Champua, Joda, Balibandh and Bamebari areas had seized a heavy vehicle carrying huge quantities of illegally mined manganese from Nayagad forest while mines officials failed to get an inkling about the illegal mineral transportation. 35 tonnes of high grade iron ores were in the truck.
Thursday, Barbil police got a major breakthrough in cracking down on mineral mafia at Matkambeda. They seized three trucks which were carrying illegally extracted mineral to Jharkhand and West Bengal.
Two trucks were loaded with 71 tonnes of iron ores and the other truck was carrying 24 tonnes of managanese. Police arrested six people, including three drivers. The seized minerals were valued over Rs 6 lakh.
Police came to know that iron ores and manganese were being transported illegal from closed mines inside Lasarda mines under Bolani police limits late Wednesday night.
However, many quarters sought to know how the mines official failed to know of this illegal mineral extraction and transportation.
Police had intercepted the trucks on the borders of Barbil police limits. On verification of the documents in the trucks, police came to know that the minerals were illegally shifted.
Police arrested Khirod Bihuli, Rajen Munda of Kumirta village, Mutu Kumar Ojha, three divers – Sohail Khan, Raja Singh of West Bengal and Chandan Kumar of Bihar. They were produced in court Thursday.
However, the mastermind of the illegal mineral transportation, Firoz is absconding. Police said that minerals were being transported from the forest pockets like Lasarda, Bolani and Barbil to Jharkhand and West Bengal.
Such racket was busted amid allegations of rampant illegal mining activities in Joda and other areas.
About a week ago, some local youths stumbled upon piles of manganese in a forested area, just 500 metres from Joda police station and the office of the joint director of mines. The illegally mines manganese weighing over 10 tonnes was covered under palm leaves. It was worth over Rs 1 lakh.
Such cases are coming to the fore with seizure of police and forest officials amid allegations that minerals are being illegally excavated in forested area like Raija and Ingani Jharan.