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Mine Owner Arrested for Illegal Mining in Odisha

The anti-corruption vigilance sleuths of Odisha police today arrested a mine lease holder for his alleged involvement in illegal mining activities in Uliburu iron ore mines under Joda circle of Keonjhar district, official sources said.

The mine lease holder identified as B K Mohanty was arrested from his house in Bhubaneswar and subsequently produced at the special vigilance court at Keonjhar.

"Mohanty's bail petition was rejected by the special vigilance judge Balakrushna Mohapatra," government pleader Debadutta Biswal told reporters.

Mohanty, who has been sent to judicial custody till August 12, however, claimed that he was in no way involved in the illegal mining.

"I had given power of attorney to one Deepak Gupta to operate the mines under the law. I do not know what actually happened there. I came to know about the illegal mining activities from media," Mohanty said before going to the jail at Keonjhar.

"Mohanty was arrested following a series of raids on his house in Bhubneswar and at other places. We arrested him after getting prima facie evidence against the mine lease holder," said vigilance DSP S K Dasmohapatra.

The state vigilance was assigned investigation into the alleged illegal mining at Uliburu mines following media reports which claimed that an amount of Rs 1800 crore was involved in the scam.

The vigilance department claimed at least an amount of Rs 839.68 crore was involved in the illegal mining activities at Mohanty's Uliburi iron ore mines. "The amount could be more as the investigation progresses," a senior official said.

The sleuths yesterday raided at 10 different places in Bhubaneswar, Keonjhar and Mayurbhanj districts in connection with the multi-crore scam and had detained Mohanty for further interrogation. The sleuths had also reportedly seized some incriminating documents related to mines from Mohanty's possession.

Besides, the team had also launched search operations simultaneously at the residences of some government officials and others involved in the scam in different places in Bhubaneswar, Keonjhar, Mayurbhanj and Rourkela.

Asked about Deepak Gupta's invovement in the illegal mining activities, vigilance SP B B Mishra said: "We will soon nab Gupta and his brother Champak Gupta. They had a narrow escape when the vigilance team was about to arrest them."

The vigilance investigating team's series of search, however, could not get any major evidence against Gupta as his house was found locked. Vigilance department filed cases against him and his family members including wife Nitu Gupta, father Haricharan Gupta, mother Santa Devi and brother Champak Gupta, Mishra said.

Besides, cases have also been registered against 18 officials of the forest and mines department, sources added.

Mohanty was holding lease over 35 hectare iron ore lease at Uliburu in Joda mineral circle. He has been accused of illegally raising and exporting iron ore worth Rs 1,800 crore, before the irregularities came to fore. Mohanty allegedly excavated huge amount of iron ore beyond his approved lease area.

An enforcement squad of the State steel and mines department had submitted a report in March showing violation of rules in B K Mohanty mines, based on earlier investigations of Joda DDM (deputy director of mines).

Emerging story. Watch this space for updates as more details come in
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