To say strange things happen in this country would be a gross understatement. How can coal amounting to as large a quantity as 142,000 tonnes vanish from a coal yard? Unbelievable it is but now that it really has happened, one still has to struggle to admit the fact. Under a managing director there are other high officials along with other staff members to run the operation of the mine and supervision of the extracted coal. Unless the entire bunch colludes in the act of illegal disposal of the coal, it is impossible to perform this vile act. These people were given the responsibility of maintaining the reserve to be used for power plants in the area. How dare they commit this crime knowing full well that it cannot be hushed up no matter how much they may try to do so? This is no normal theft. Involved here is not only coal worth Tk 2.27 billion, which is a national resource, but also a severe breach of trust with the nation and defiance of the higher authority.
A few top officials of the mining company have been withdrawn or suspended following the revelation that no coal is left to run the Barapukuria coal-fired power plant. Is that all? The persons suspected to be involved in the criminal act should immediately be interned. It is good that the Anti-Corruption Commission (ACC) has slapped ban on the travel by the officials suspected to be involved in the disappearance of Barapukuria coal. When a crime of this order takes place, there has to be some people with the knowledge of the crime outside of the gang actively involved in it. But surprisingly none reported to the police or higher authorities. In that sense, such people also passively become a party to the crime -only more so because at issue here is a national resource.
Now the impact of the crime is felt by people of the area. Since Sunday night last, the thermal power plant with a capacity of 525 megawatts has stopped producing electricity for want of coal severely affecting the supply of power there. The mine is scheduled to go into coal production from next month. Before that time normal supply in the area cannot be expected. Unless people go out of their heads, it is impossible for managing directors, managers and others to form a pact for embarking on such an outrageous but silent heist. What prompted them to go nuts is indeed a matter of conjecture unless it is unbridled avarice.
In this country, the greatest malaise is this uncontrolled greed. But regrettably, the authorities appear to be reluctant to impose a decisive deterrent to it. A case in point is the big borrowers of bank money who default on repayment of their loans with impunity, with the authorities concerned looking the other way. Law has to be applied without discrimination or the basic principle gets undermined which encourages crimes like the coal scam.
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