Wednesday, April 24, 2019 | ePaper

Coal thieves must be netted

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THE Anti-Corruption Commission's sleuths investigating into the case over disappearance of 1,48,000 tonnes coal from the Barapukuria Colliery is in a dilemma to complete the probe due to technical issues. As none of the reports of three other probe committees had been published since July 2018, the Board of the Barapukuria Coal Mining Company has shown the massive theft as 'systems loss' on December 6.
The theft of the massive coal stocks from the Barapukuria Coal Mine was exposed in July 2018.  Petrobangla's technical probe committee identified the theft as 'system loss' and the report was not submitted to the Petrobangla's higher authorities. That is why, said the investigators, they were delaying completion of the probes.
On July 23, 2018, the Prime Minister issued orders to bring the perpetrators to book as quickly as possible. A departmental probe identified shortage of coal stocked at the power plant to the tune of 1,48,000 tonnes worth about Tk 230 crore. Experts condemned treating the theft as 'system loss, ' though in July 2018, PDB officials informed the BCMCL at its Board meeting that they had found that the coal stocks had a shortage of 1,44,644 tonnes.
Why there should be a dilemma is incomprehensible as there should be no doubt about systems loss versus plain theft. It should not be too difficult to figure out the total systems loss which could occur due to the operation of a coal mine. When it is clearly evident that theft of the National Coffers has occurred on a massive scale why should the Board of the Mining Company declare it as systems loss?
Any failure of the authorities to book the guilty will stand as a damning indictment of the entire system of public sector accountability. Public officials are already indemnified in many ways in theory-but if the administration cant book them for committing what is a clear open and shut case it will be seen as clear nepotism and patronage.
Such patronage-political or otherwise, can't occur at the expense of public fund. Such perpetrator must be brought to justice as quickly as possible. Robbing the public exchequer can't be made into a cottage industry.

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