India’s poor coal ‘thieves’ forced to scavenge for survival (Eco-Business/Reuters – February 8, 2023)

A tip-off led police officer Indradeo Rajwar into the Nimiya Tola forests of Hazaribagh, in eastern India, hot on the trail of two men on a motorcycle carrying stolen coal. As Rajwar closed in, the men dumped 1,200 kg (2,646 lb) of the dirty fossil fuel and escaped.

Rajwar’s report on the incident in Jharkhand state documents a story of theft that is common across India’s main coal-mining areas. “These forests are used as cover by people transporting stolen coal,” Rajwar said, adding that the perpetrators are mostly men aged between 18 and 35.

“It is difficult to police the entire area, but whenever we get information about coal being transported illegally, we take action,” he said. The case registered at Churchu police station in Hazaribagh district – which has the second largest coal reserves in Jharkhand state – is one of more than 200 filed across the country in the last financial year, government data show.

In the 2020-21 financial year, state-run Coal India Limited, the world’s largest coal-mining firm, recovered 126 million rupees (US$1.52 million) worth of stolen coal in raids it conducted jointly with the authorities.

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