Several local media outlets reported four former MDs of the coal mine were named as accused in the probe report, which Petrobangla submitted to the Ministry of Power, Energy and Mineral Resources on Wednesday
A high official of Petrobangla has said the probe report submitted to the Ministry of Power, Energy and Mineral Resources did not mention any names suspected of being linked to the coal disappearance from Barapukuria coal mine.
The Petrobangla official, who was one of the three members of the probe committee formed to investigate the coal scam, said they only showed their findings of reasonable doubts at the report, without naming anybody in it.
Speaking to the Dhaka Tribune on Thursday, the official said he was embarrassed to see the names of four former managing directors (MDs) of Barapukuria Coal Mining Company Limited (BCMCL), including the recently suspended MD Md Habib Uddin Ahmed.
Several local media outlets reported four former MDs of the coal mine were named as accused in the probe report, which Petrobangla submitted to the Ministry of Power, Energy and Mineral Resources on Wednesday.
The official said they did not submit any former MD’s name and that it was “totally unethical” of the media to publish such names without verifying with the probe committee.
Many media outlets reported that the recently suspended BCMCL MD Habib Uddin and three of his predecessors – SM Nurul Aurangajeb, Md Aminuzzaman and Md Quamruzzaman – has been named accused.
The disappearance of coal came to light a few days back when a team of Bangladesh Power Development Board (PDB) visited the coal mine and found that there was no adequate reserve of coal in the mine's yard.
Talking to the Dhaka Tribune, SM Nurul hinted at system loss as a reason for the huge amount of coal gone missing. He was also allowed a 42-day leave to perform Hajj.
SM Nurul is currently serving as the MD of Maddhapara Granite Mining Company Limited, and Quamruzzaman is the MD of Rupantarita Prakritik Gas Company Limited. Aminuzzaman is working at a Chinese firm.
So far, three BCMCL officials – Habib, Mining Department General Manager ATS Nuruzzaman Chowdhury, and Deputy General Manager Md Khademul Islam – have been suspended.
BCMCL Secretary (Administration) Md Abul Quashem Pradhania was transferred to the Pashchimanchal Gas Distribution Company Ltd.
The government has imposed travel ban on four officials both formerly and currently employed in the BCMCL. They are: Habib Uddin, Abul Quashem, Nuruzzaman and Md Khademul.
State Minister for Power, Energy and Mineral Resources Nasrul Hamid, after receiving the report on Wednesday, has held 19 accused officials as responsible, whose names were filed in the coal scam case.
He said: "It looks like all officials at the Barapukuria mine are involved in irregularities and corruption. There will be criminal case filed against the wrongdoers."
On Wednesday, Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina had a meeting with the state minister, two secretaries to the ministry and high-level officials from the Petrobangla and PDB at her office.
Following the meeting, the prime minister also ordered further probe into the scam, but the Dhaka Tribune was unable to verify the matter with a reliable source.
Meanwhile, the PDB formed a 12-member committee to import coal for the 525MW Barapukuria coal-fired power plant which was shut down on July 22 following the acute shortage of coal in the BCMCL yard.
On Tuesday, a case was filed against 19 BCMCL officials, including MD Habib Uddin.
Benazir Ahmed, deputy director of the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) in Dinajpur, said the primary investigation found that around 142,000 tons of coal were missing, while there was a stockpile 3,000 tons coal instead.
The Dinajpur office of ACC has already sent the case documents to its head office in Dhaka.
Until Friday afternoon, ACC Director Shamsul Alam was not available for his comments. He is heading a three-member probe body formed by the anti-graft body.
The committee, formed on Monday, was given 15 days to submit its report.
CAB to probe into coal scam as well
The Consumers' Association of Bangladesh (CAB) is going to launch an investigation into the coal scam, confirmed its Energy Adviser M Shamsul Alam.
“We are going to publish an advertisement in this regard on Sunday,” he said, adding that the probe committee had yet to be finalized.
Petrobangla chairman, energy secretary visit Barapukuria
Petrobangla Chairman Abul Mansur Md Faizullah and a four-member team from the Ministry of Power, Energy and Mineral Resources visited the Barapukuria coal mine and thermal power plant on Friday.
The ministry delegation included Energy and Mineral Resources Division Secretary Abu Hena Md Rahmatul Muneem, Power Division Secretary Dr Ahmad Kaikaus, and PDB Chairman Khaled Mahmud.
“Their [the BCMCL] claim for system loss is not believable. Those involved will be brought to justice after further investigation," Energy Secretary Abu Hena told reporters after the visit.
Official investigation showed there was a shortage of 148,000 tons of coal.
The government officials also ensured reporters that there were no shortages of power production in the country at the moment.
They also said measures had been taken to produce more power in Sirajganj power plant to meet the needs of the consumers.