Hans Staiger Award Winner Finds Evidence Bolstering Allegations that Indian Company Overcharged for Coal

By: ICFJ | 06/10/2024

Coal that was originally designated as low-quality appears to have been sold to the state power company in India as high-quality coal for triple the cost, according to an investigation from the Organized Crime and Corruption Reporting Project (OCCRP) led by Anand Mangnale, winner of the ICFJ Hans Staiger Investigative Reporting Award.

“The alleged overpricing would not only burden ordinary Indians with inflated fuel costs,” OCCRP wrote in a recent newsletter highlighting the investigation. “Burning lower quality coal also produces more pollution, a scourge responsible for more than 1.6 million deaths in India in 2019, according to a recent study published in the Lancet."

The investigation provides fresh evidence in support of allegations that the seller, the Adani Group, was providing low-grade coal at high-quality rates. Authorities have previously investigated the company, one of India’s largest conglomerates, on allegations of overpricing.

Mangnale is OCCRP’s regional editor for South Asia and the inaugural winner of the Hans Staiger Award, which comes with a $5,000 prize and is administered by the International Center for Journalists (ICFJ). The Financial Times, NBR Arcadio, and OCCRP partner journalists Ravi Nair and Prajwal Bhat provided additional reporting for the investigation.

The Hans Staiger Investigative Reporting Award exists to support investigative reporting by journalists who are part of the OCCRP global network. It was established in honor of Staiger, a longtime reporter and editor for the BBC and a media development consultant with ICFJ for more than 12 years. As an ICFJ consultant, Staiger worked closely with OCCRP, a longtime ICFJ partner.

Mangnale said he was immensely grateful for the award: “I am deeply honored to be associated with Hans and his monumental contribution to the field of collaborative investigative journalism.”

“This support comes at a critical juncture for me, and also when the very essence of journalism faces relentless attack,” Mangnale said. “In India, the mainstream media has largely become a vessel for propaganda. This award shows how vital and important investigative journalism is – the kind that demands time, dedicated effort, and a willingness to confront risk for the greater good. This award has bolstered me to pursue more such stories, and hold the powerful and corrupt to account.”

Vjollca Shtylla, Staiger’s wife, who also worked with him at ICFJ, said Mangnale’s investigation is exactly the kind of reporting that Staiger devoted his career to supporting.

“I can see the smile on Hans’ face – and in his heart – congratulating Anand on his most courageous report,” Shtylla said. “Hans put his heart and soul in supporting the outstanding group of OCCRP investigative reporters. Their work carries his legacy forward. It is the best way  to honor Hans and the work he devoted his life to.”

Read the full story.

To support courageous reporting like Anand’s and to pay tribute to Hans’ memory, we invite you to make a contribution to this award. Thank you to everyone who has donated to make this award possible.

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