In an effort to stop rampant looting of coal that is imported from Australia, the Bokaro steel plant has impressed upon the railways to change the route of trains that transport it from Bengal's Haldia port, where the consignments land.
The senior security commissioner of Adra Railway division, P.K Gupta, announced this after a meeting with the general manager of Bokaro Steel Plant, S. Tripathy, today.
"A new strategy to curb the malpractice was chalked out after consultations with the Railway Protection Force and other security agencies, including the district police, at the meeting. All agreed that the present route should be changed to stop looting of coal," said Gupta.
Bokaro Steel Plant imports Australian coal at a hefty price on a regular basis. The coal, which arrives at the Haldia port, is transported to the plant in Bokaro via goods trains that take the Haldia-Gomoh-Chandrapura-Tupkadih route. But from now on, the trains would take the Haldia-Bankura-Adra-Bhojudih route to reach the plant.
New railway tracks have already been laid on the plant premises to connect it with the new route. Trains will start plying on the new route within a week.
"We were forced to change the rail route as we were losing crores of rupees because of large-scale looting of coal. Even the railways has been incurring huge loses over the past several years," Gupta said.
Sources said that goods trains carrying imported Australian coal were deliberately stopped or delayed at outer signals of several stations, including Gomoh, Chandrapura and Tupkadih
Obviously, there was a nexus between the coal thieves and train drivers, who were paid off handsomely to stop the trains at their bidding. Once the trains halted, hundreds of villagers, including women and children, forcefully boarded them and threw out coal on the tracks.
Local goons, waiting outside, would immediately collect the coal and flee. No security personnel dared to stop them as the thieves reportedly enjoyed the patronage of local crime lords and political leaders. As a result, the malpractice has been continuing for years now.
Telegraph / May 22, 2009