August 24, 2018 / 1:36 PM / 8 months ago

Bosnia police detain coke plant manager after environmental breaches

SARAJEVO (Reuters) - Bosnia’s regional police on Friday detained the general manager of the Balkans’ leading metallurgical coke producer Global Ispat Koksna Industrija Lukavac (GIKIL) which was ordered to halt operations the previous day accused of environmental negligence.

“We can confirm that Debasish Ganguly was detained and handed over to the prosecutor’s office,” a spokesman for Tuzla cantonal police told Reuters, without providing further details.

Bosnian authorities on Thursday gave the plant, majority owned by Dubai-based Global Steel Holdings Ltd (GSH) and linked to India’s wealthy Mittal family, a 30-day deadline to gradually suspend operations in order to prevent major environmental damage.

GIKIL, with around 1,000 employees in the northern town of Lukavac, was accused of discharging toxic liquid waste into the nearby Spreca river, a tributary of the Sava, which flows through Bosnia, Croatia, Serbia and Slovenia.

A GIKIL spokeswoman declined to comment until more information about the arrest and the case was available.

The company had also failed to renew an environment permit that expired in January 2017, despite a series of sanctions imposed on it after more than 20 site inspections, an inspectorate in Bosnia’s autonomous Bosniak-Croat Federation said.

The inspectorate also said the regional prosecutor’s office had opened an investigation into whether GIKIL was guilty of negligence, without giving details.

Indian businessman Pramod Mittal, the brother of steel magnate Lakshmi Mittal, is president of GIKIL’s supervisory board and is a former chairman of GSH.

Ganguly was appointed managing director of GIKIL in August 2013 after being on the company’s supervisory board for around two years, according to the company’s website.

GIKIL is Bosnia’s fourth biggest exporter and sells to Europe and Asia.

Reporting by Maja Zuvela; Editing by Kirsten Donovan

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