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Disappearance of 142 thousand tons of coal from Barapukuria
Barapukuria_coalmine_filew photo

Disappearance of 142 thousand tons of coal from Barapukuria

Dhaka, March 03 – The unusual disappearance of 1.42 lakh tons coal from the Barapukuria Coal Mine Company Ltd (BCMCL) and subsequent coal shortage at Barapukuria Power Plant stemmed from complete mismanagement between two state-owned authorities, an investigation conducted by the Consumer Association of Bangladesh (CAB) said. The CAB report which was revealed yesterday at a press conference in Dhaka Reporters Unity (DRU) also blamed lack of monitoring of Petrobangla and said Petrobangla had failed in ensuring proper governance of its concerned company-BCMCL.
The investigation conducted by an independent probe team of CAB unearthed several discrepancies in the management of the BCMCL including its failure in maintaining a proper inventory record, it’s illegal consent in selling coal at the open market without meeting the demand of the power plant and many more.
The report said it was not an easy task to determine how this scam took place. However, an analysis of the facts that had been gathered can give some sort of idea as to what occurred.
According to the Barapukuria mine authorities, since the mine’s inauguration in 2005 till July 19, 2018, around 101.7 lakh tonnes of coal was extracted from the mine. Of this, around 66.9 lakh tonnes was supplied to the power plant, 33.2 lakh tonnes to various industries and 12,000 tonnes was for the project’s own use.
That adds up to around 100.2 lakh tonnes. So, around 1.46 lakh tonnes of coal should have been left. But there was only a paltry 4000 tonnes lying in the yard.
BCMCL authority said the coal didn’t disappear because of robbery rather because of technical loss. That means the coal was lying out in the open in the stockyard and was depleted for various natural reasons like simple combustion, being washed away in the rain, blown away by the wind, etc.
The report said the amount the depletion of coal in the open depends on many factors. There are rules to measure the technical loss of coal at specific intervals but BCMCL didn’t resort to applying those measures to measure the system loss in the coal.
When the CAB investigation committee tried to find out whether that technical loss was measured at specific intervals since production began in 2005, it found that the BCMCL authorities had no such records.
So for the past 13 years, no one even thought about technical loss and there were no records in this regard, the CAB report found out.
The report said Chinese coal mining firm CMS extracts coals from the mine. BCMCL then buys it from the Chinese firm and sells it to the power plant.
As per the contract between CMS and the BCMCL, the permissible level of moisture in coal will not exceed 5.1 per cent. If the coal holds more moisture than the acceptable level, no money was to be paid for that.
The power plant even has a modern laboratory to measure the moisture in coal, but mysteriously no one calculated the moisture level in coals in the 13 years, CAB report found out.
The CAB investigation found out that since the beginning of coal production in the mine from 2005 to until July 19, 2018, BCMCL had paid the price of 101.66 lakh tonnes coal to CMS considering that the coal had 5.1 percent moisture. But in reality, the coal had 10.5 percent moisture and BCMCL didn’t have any trace of that.
The CAB commission calculated considering 10.5 percent moisture and said the actual coal received by BCMCL should have been more than 107.31 lakh tonne. As per the record of BCMCL, 100.22 coal was sold and basing on that figure, the BCMCL said there was no trace of 1.44 lakh tonnes coal.
The CAB investigation, however, said the real figure of the missing coal should have been more than 5.48 tonnes.
The CAB report also said a number of top officials, mostly serving at crucial posts in the energy sector, are still roaming free even after being named in the charge sheet filed in the Barapukuria coal scam case.
The authorities concerned have also turned a blind eye when it comes to suspending them, CAB report said.
The press briefing of CAB was attended by columnist Syed Abul Maksud, CAB’s energy adviser Professor M Shamsul Alam, geology Professor Badrul Imam, economics Professor MM Akash, physics Professor Sushanta Kumar Das and architect Mobassher Hossain. – Staff Reporter

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