Odisha: Mayurjhalia mines leaseholder Sushant Barad arrested over illegal mining

Nayagarh: Police last night arrested Mayurjhalia mines leaseholder Sushant Barad near Khandagiri in Odisha capital over his alleged involvement in illegal mining.

He was apprehended following a raid by a special team of police.

Nayagarh Collector Rabindra Nath Sahu had earlier placed six revenue officials under suspension for their alleged involvement in a laterite stone mining scam previously carried out under Ranpur tehsil limits and Mayurjhalia mouza of the district.

Criminal cases were earlier registered and a probe was initiated against the six officials and five others including leaseholder Sushant Kumar Barad and another lessee and director of Agarwal Infra Builders Sashank Agarwal.

It is pertinent to mention here that acting on a directive of the National Green Tribunal (NGT) in Kolkata, the district administration had registered a police case against the 11 persons in connection with the scam on May 3, 2023.

Allegedly, the two lessees had carried out excess mining of laterite stone and murram than the accorded quantity in unholy nexus with some officials and staffers of the Ranpur tehsil. A complainant named Dillip Kumar Samantaray had moved the NGT seeking justice and action against the wrongdoers.

Subsequently, a probe was conducted by a joint team comprising some senior officials and geologists of Odisha Mining Corporation (OMC) and the Nayagarh Collector. The District Collector Sahu had filed an affidavit with the NGT on December 6, 2022, reporting about the probe findings.

In the court’s final verdict, the NGT instructed for registering a case.

Accordingly, the district Collector ordered the Ranpur tehsildar to lodge an FIR with the police.

Key accused Sushant Barad was accorded the lease for mining laterite stone and murram from four acres of land on plot Number-1689 under Mayurjhalia mouza in the district for a period of five years. Similarly, the Agarwal Infra Builder was given a temporary permit to quarry and transport soil from two acres of land on the same plot.

Sushant Barad was fined Rs 2,81,59,945 on January 10 this year for the excess mining. However, Barad did not pay the hefty fine amount. He rather brought a bribe allegation against Collector Sahu.

Leaseholder Barad had cited in his appeal that Collector Sahu asked him for a bribe of Rs 25 lakh to set aside the case. On the contrary to which, the allegation was rejected by the NGT.

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