Coal theft in Rajasthan: 150 container drivers suspected to be part of racket
Police received information from other states about the presence of illegal coal depots.
JAIPUR: Rajasthan Police’s CID CB unit carried out a series of late-night raids at 13 locations in Jalore, Pali, Barmer, Bikaner, Jodhpur City, and Jodhpur Rural districts, uncovering a large-scale illegal coal operation.
The high-quality coal confiscated during the raids is typically transported from Kandla Port in Gujarat’s Gandhidham through Rajasthan to various states, including Punjab, Jammu and Kashmir, and Delhi. This coal is utilized for purposes ranging from electricity generation to cement production.
According to the ADG Crime Dinesh MN, the police received information from other states about the presence of illicit coal depots in various Rajasthan districts. The culprits were reportedly breaking container seals, removing 30% of the high-quality coal, and replacing it with low-quality coal. They would then reseal the containers with near-identical seals before forwarding them.
Acting on this information, police teams were dispatched to the field, and after conducting reconnaissance for several days, the CID CB unit initiated the late-night raids. Numerous individuals were apprehended, and the police seized several large vehicles, including luxury cars, during the operation. In total, more than 19 people were arrested on the spot.
Investigations revealed that around 500 to 600 containers pass through Rajasthan from Kandla Port daily. Among these, about 150 container drivers have connections with the culprits. The theft occurs within half an hour during the drivers’ lunch breaks, making it difficult to detect through GPS tracking.
Each container holds coal worth approximately Rs 10 lakh ($13,000), with the criminals stealing goods valued at Rs 3 lakh ($4,000) from each. The stolen high-quality coal is later sold in the market at a premium price. Traders in Punjab, Delhi, and Jammu and Kashmir began noticing a decline in coal quality coming from Kandla Port, which prompted further investigation.
The mixing of low-quality coal with high-quality coal significantly reduces the latter’s efficiency. Good quality coal has a longer burn time, while local coal turns to ash more quickly. The mixed coal’s heating capacity was found to be less than half of that in the other containers.
In response to the coal theft, the CID CB Jaipur team conducted simultaneous raids, registering 10 FIRs and detaining 19 individuals for questioning. The police seized numerous items during the operation, including three LNT machines, six JCB machines, 13 trucks and trailers, five loaders, two tractors, seven weighing machines, seven tankers, approximately 1,850 tonnes of coal, 20 drums of Damur, one note counting machine, and several duplicate seals.