The role of Petrobangla over the disappearance of a huge quantity of coal from Barapukuria mine in Dinajpur has been questioned by all quarters.
The people concerned say it needs at least 30,000 trucks to remove about 1.5 Lakh tonnes of coal. It is not possible to complete the work with so many trucks in a day or two. The corruption has been going on for a long period. Nobody monitored the removal of coal from the yard and none took any action. Whereas, this is the responsibility of Petrobangla and Barapukuria coal mine officials.
State Minister for Power, Energy and Mineral Resources Nasrul Hamid said Petrobangla has neglected the incident. After receiving the inquiry report, he told the reporters that all the officials should be held responsible for the coal missing as they have not kept any record of coal.
The sector-experts say that now only the mining officers are being blamed. They said Petrobangla chairman is the chairmen of Barapukuria Coal Mining Company Limited (BCMCL) according to the rules.
So, he has to be on his watch in the overall affairs of the company. But he was not aware of coal corruption. Not only he, also the former chairman did not do the job properly.
BCMCL is an organization under Petrobangla. They get a dividend of coal sale. Regardless of the dividends, Petrobangla did not observe the activities of mine officials and staff regularly. This failure has been revealed after the disappearance of coal. The organization has also tried to investigate coal corruption with its own officials. Officials said that according to the rules, the directors of Petrobangla (Operation and Mines) will direct supervision of Barapukuria Coal Mine. As a result, the director cannot avoid the responsibility of coal scam.
Mohammad Kamruzzaman is currently serving in this position. But he was made head of the probe committee, rather than not bringing him under accountability.
It is alleged that the three-member investigation committee was initially headed by Kamruzzaman. Petrobangla has not kept any ministry or expert level officers there. Later, the Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina instructed to add representatives from the ministry.
Sources said Kamruzzaman was the Managing Director of Bangladesh Gas Field Company (BGFECL).
Earlier, he was also General Manager (GM) in the same company. But he has no work experience in the coal sector.
Multiple sources said, “It will be possible for a long time to think that if one lakh tonnes of coal are sold from a large stack of coal, there will be no problem.”
An official of Petrobangla said let’s say a buyer buys 100 tons of coal and 120 tons of coal was given instead of 100 tons. Here the money for extra 20 tons can be shared between the customer and the sales representative. Again, the contractor has been given payments more than the requirement for lifting the coal from the mine to gobble up the additional.
Meanwhile there are representatives of the ministry in all company’s board of power and energy division. It is said by the ministry that the representatives are kept in the ministry to make the companies work fast. But there is now doubt about whether the board members have any information on how the company is running.
The concerned people said that the company is in Dinajpur and board members live in Dhaka. Board meetings are also held in Dhaka. There are some additional facilities for the company’s board members. In most cases, board members become the key to earning their own benefits rather than caring for the company. As a result, they have little knowledge about the overall activities of the company.
There are questions about the efficiency of Petrobangla being operated by bureaucrats. Generally, the responsibility of researchers or experts, who have worked for a long time in this field, is assigned to manage such institutions. But exceptions are Petrobangla.
Professor Shamsul Alam, energy advisor of Bangladesh Consumer Association of Bangladesh (cab), opposed the management of the company by bureaucrats. He has been saying more than once that managing the company by bureaucrats will cause a crisis.
It is not possible to ensure transparency, if the same person is given the management and inspection charges at a time, he said.
Energy expert BD Rahmat Ullah said that they were totally unaware of the coal scam. This responsibility will be taken by the mining officer and Petrobangla.
Petrobangla chairman Abul Mansur Mohammad Faizullah was not available to talk on these issues.
The mine authority has filed a complaint under the Anti-Corruption Act accusing 19 persons, including the managing director of the Barapukuria Coal Mining Company, over the disappearance of 144,644 tonnes of coal worth Tk 2.3 billion.