NMDC says stolen explosives are dud, expert says no

Raipur, June 1 (Calcutta Tube) The state-owned National Mineral Development Corporation (NMDC) Tuesday denied that Maoists were using the explosives stolen from its depot in Dantewada district to trigger the recent deadly blasts, and said these had expired and ‘may not have the strength to explode’.

The NMDC, in a statement made available to IANS, rebutted a report which quoted a de-mining expert as having said that Maoists had stolen 20 tonnes of high-powered explosives in February 2006 from Bailadila and that the rebels were using these stocks.

The expert, who said that the rebels had used one tonne of the explosives and ‘they are in a hurry to use the remaining 19 tonnes before they expire by the fag end of 2010’, again sought to refute the NMDC’s claim.

In the statement, NMDC said that ‘the shelf life of explosive is six months as declared by the manufacturers’.

‘As the explosive was stolen more than four years back, it has crossed its shelf life, and as such the stolen explosives may not have the strength to explode,’ the statement said.

It said that ‘19.570 tonnes of explosives’ were stolen by the Maoists, adding that it was ‘slurry explosives (water-gel)’.

The de-mining expert, who is based in Chhattisgarh’s Bastar region – the nerve-centre of Maoist militancy – told IANS that the NMDC explosives were used by Maoists for all major attacks in recent months, including the attack by rebels April 6 in Dantewada district in which 76 security personnel were killed.

The expert rejected the claims of the NMDC that its stolen explosives may not have strength to explode.

‘It’s not up to any mining company to comment about explosives, experts know well that explosives materials can be used to deadly effects after months and years even after its formal expiry period,’ the expert said, reacting to the NMDC’s statement.

NMDC said its stolen items were of ‘slurry explosives (water-gel)’ but the expert said that NMDC explosives were ‘high-powered’ as they were kept for blasting rocks to create space for iron ore mining in Bailadila hills in Dantewada.

‘There are several items that are used for other purposes but terrorists and extremists use it to a deadly effect such as ammonium nitrate which is a common fertilizer but it is widely used as an oxidizing agent in explosives,’ the expert remarked.

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