Naxals have now virtually gained control over illicit mining of not just coal but also minerals, including the cash-rich iron ore, across states of their dominance. The annual turnover from this illegal trade, that runs into hundreds of crore, is being pumped into financing the armed operations of the Maoists.
This startling revelation has been made in a recent Intelligence Bureau report sent to the key central ministries and Naxal-infested states in an attempt to sensitise them against the growing financial clout of the Maoists through this illicit means. The Central intelligence agencies had cautioned the various stakeholders almost two-years ago also about the growing influence of Naxals in illegal coal mining.
But now, as the report states, details of which have been accessed by this newspaper, the Naxals have grown manifold, multiplying not only their annual turnover but also covering the entire illegal mining and coal business.
According to the intelligence report, “This only goes on to prove that security agencies have not been able to control the growing influence of Naxals in this cash rich illegal business that has given them a cutting edge.’’
In another shift of strategy, the confidential report adds, the Naxal are not relying on contractors or mafia to collect money from illegal mining, instead they have now roped in their own overground workers who are directly carrying out mining operations.
“This means more money for the Naxals. As earlier the contractors or the mafia controlling the business used to give only a percentage to the Naxals as part of protection money. But now the entire sale proceeds go to Maoists,’’ a top intelligence official said.
As expected the worst-hit states are the mineral rich Orissa, Jharkhand, Chhat-tisgarh and Bihar. But there are pockets in other states with a sizeable Naxal presence where they are making huge profits from the mining operations.
There is a growing view within the Capital’s security and intelligence establishment that there is an urgent need to have a dedicated task force that will not only protect the natural resources but will also freeze the financial channel of the Maoists.
Senior officials are apprehensive that after controlling the illicit mining business the Naxals will soon turn their attention to other such trade in the jungle, like getting expensive wood or tendu leaves, which too are a money spinner.
“This is an extremely dangerous phenomenon because with the kind of money that the Naxals are making it will become very difficult to contain their growing influence,’’the official added.