Patowary laments CBI’s overlook on coal trade

Guwahati: Assam minister Chandra Mohan Patowary on Monday said Chief Minister Sarbananda Sonowal had written to the CBI around a year ago asking it to probe into illegal trading of coal, known in the state as “coal syndicate”, but the agency is yet to respond to it.
Over 100 persons, including government officials, have been arrested in 2018-19 for their alleged involvement in the “coal syndicate”, said Patowary, the state’s commerce and industry minister.
“The CM had written to the CBI for a probe on syndicate about a year ago. The CBI has not responded yet. May be they will respond, as it is from the CM’s Office,” Patowary said at a press conference here.
The opposition Congress had demanded a CBI enquiry into the scam claiming that the Coal India Limited was involved in it and it was beyond the state CID’s mandate.
Since February last year, the CID of Assam Police is investigating illegal coal trading in the state.
“In 2018-19, around 300 coal laden trucks with no proper documents were seized by the police. Also, over 100 people have been arrested in coal syndicate cases. These people include senior government officials,” Patowary said.
Patowary said the chief minister formed a state-level monitoring committee on syndicate, which takes report from the deputy commissioners and SPs of the districts on daily basis.
He said 450 cattle were rescued and 55 smugglers were arrested from different places of the state this month, showing the government’s “zero tolerance” to any form of syndicate.
On Congress MP Pradyut Bordoloi’s allegation that coal syndicate is continuing with support from the Chief Minister’s Office, Patowary dismissed the charge as baseless.
“Bordoloi was a minister and MLA for 15 years. All know that there were 150 illegal check gates, which were shut down as soon as Sarbananda Sonowal came to power. Probably under Bordoloi’s influence, coal syndicate in Margherita is going on,” he said. (PTI)

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