Senior IAS Link with Stone Scam, RTI Activist claims

Jajpur (Odisha) : Roughly thousands of crores worth of blackstone has been looted from Bichakhandi Hills in Dharmasala Tahasil of Jajpur District. Right to information worker Sarbeswar Behura alleged that the then District Collector IAS Ranjan Das was the main mastermind of this robbery and the roots of this robbery extended up to the third floor on the advice of local MLA Pranab Balbantarai. Right to information worker Pradeep Pradhan said that the people related to the ruling BJD are taking mining leases and looting such organized mines and this information has come to the fore after complaints from the people.

In a press conference today, RTI members Mr. Pradhan and Mr. Behura said that IAS Ranjan Das was involved in the Scam.Now it is surprising how the government appointed him as the chief administrator of Sri Jagannath temple. Ranjan Das openly protected and co-operated with the lease holders for the mining of Bichakhandi blackstone. The state vigilance has named Ranjan Das as accused number one .

The central government has not given any permission to lease blackstone mines within this 890-acre protected forest. The DFO informed the district administration that mining mafias were illegally stealing hundreds of tons of black stone.Dharmasala Tahasil informed the Right to Information Act that no one has been given a lease for mining in the said area and the mining that is going on is completely illegal. Since the district administration did not take any steps to stop the theft of black stone in Bichakhandi Hills, Mr. Behura complained to the Lokayukta on February 8, 2021 and demanded an investigation. Jajpur District Magistrate and Dharmasala Tahsildar issued notices in this case.

But as their answer was not satisfactory, the state vigilance was ordered to investigate. Mr. Behura said that the vigilance took years and gave its report on April 28, 2023, but it did not make an accurate estimate of mining theft. Hyderabad-based ISRO also took vigilance to monitor the mining. ISRO provided the state vigilance with satellite images of Bichakhandi hills between 2005 and 2020. However, due to the mining of the said black stone, a large pond has been formed in the Bichakhandi hills and water has filled in it. How many stones have been dug in the place between 2005 and 2020?

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