“Weeks before Jharkhand Chief Minister Hemant Soren shot off a letter on November 27 to the Enforcement Directorate(ED) challenging its claims in the alleged mining scam in the state, the probe agency had already dispatched a letter to the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) on the massive extent of the scandal”, reports Ritu Sarin in The Indian Express today.

The same report points out that in “a September 10 letter to MoEF Secretary, Leena Nanda, the ED, following its investigation into the PMLA (Prevention of Money Laundering Act) case, pegged the financial loss due to alleged illegal and unrecorded transportation of stone chips at Rs 1,350 crore.”

“The ED also informed the MoEF Secretary that an equal number of 1,350 railway rakes were used to transport the illegally mined stone chips from railway stations located at Pirpainti in Bihar and Barharwa and Sahibganj in Jharkhand.”

Ritu Sarin’s report published by the Indian Express today adds this.”On the very day he was to be questioned by the ED, Soren had challenged the claims of the agency, saying a loss of Rs 1,000 crore from mining royalties would require eight crore metric tonnes of stone chips to be ferried in rakes and trucks to and fro from Sahibgunj.”

Soren’s letter published by JharkhandStateNews on Wednesday had described the claims of the ED as “sensational”.

The Indian Express report by Ritu Sarin states this.”It is learnt that in its communication to the Ministry, the ED elaborated on what it called the ‘irreversible environmental damage’ caused to Jharkhand due to illegal quarrying.”

“The ED wrote that it had undertaken 19 joint inspections of mining sites with a host of officials from government departments and reports were being submitted to the Ministry. Satellite imagery of different sites that showed extensive illegal mining were also annexed to the communication.”

Investigation revealed that in its chargesheet on March 8, “the ED had stated that as many as 125 FIRs were filed by Jharkhand Police for illegal mining and that once it took over the case, besides the seizure of the transporters and equipment, cash totalling Rs 5.34 crore was seized and bank balances to the tune of Rs 13.32 crore frozen.”

“The ED chargesheet provides a station-wise list with numbers of railway rakes in which stone chips were transported without challans between 2020 and 2022”, adds Ritu Sarin authored report of The India Express.

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