Goa police claimed to have busted a gang, involved in smuggling iron ore from a mine in Collem village, around 80 kms from here. Five people were arrested during a combing operation conducted last night and in the wee hours today, police inspector Jivba Dalvi told PTI. The gang, which was allegedly operating without a valid licence in the state, was illegally selling the iron ore extracted from the mine to an exporter, police said. However, the ringleader, who has been handling the trade is absconding, he added. According to Dalvi, the gang had been luring truck owners to sell the iron ore loaded from Agarwal Mines at Collem to them, without the knowledge of the mining firm.
After that, the ore used to be exported outside Goa, by stacking it in a plot at Kothambi village. As per the company’s schedule, the ore, which was filled in trucks at Collem, was supposed to be unloaded at a jetty in Navelim, from where, it used to be taken to the port in smaller ships. The gang used to lure the truck drivers with hefty money and ask them to unload it at a plot, skipping their trip to the jetty, the investigation has revealed. Fake rubber stamps of the company were also recovered during the police raid at the office located on the plot, Dalvi said. Police have now written to the State Mines and Geology Department asking them to verify the iron ore, which was seized from the illegal plot at Kothambi. “There is total 8,000 tonnes of iron ore in the plot, which is worth Rs four crores.
The Mines Department has been requested to verify the ore as the ore from several other mining firms may have been dumped here,” Dalvi said. Police had launched an investigation after the mining firm had noticed that some of its ore was being stolen on-route to the jetty. The records at the weighing bridge outside the mine and at jetty were cross-checked to zero in on the offenders, who were smuggling the ore, which is fetching high price in the market.