Illegal Mining in Karnataka costs the exchequer 16,085 crore
The report has named six ministers, 784 bureaucrats and 100 firms apart from pinning the loss to the exchequer at 16,085 crore
Imran Khan and G Vishnu
Karnataka Lokayukta Santosh Hegde finally submitted his report on illegal mining to the state government on Wednesday. Addressing the media after the submission Santosh Hegde said that a copy of the report will also be submitted to the Governor as he was the authority that will take action against the Chief Minister who has been indicted in the report.
The Bharatiya Janata Party’s first southern Chief Minister BS Yedddyurappa, who until yesterday, was demanding a Nobel prize, for his efforts to curb illegal export of iron ore in the state, was found by the report, to have used his power as chief minister and as the minister of state for mining to obtain a benefit from South West Mining Company (subsidiary of Jindal Steel) of Rs 10 crore to the Prerna trust. The trust is managed by members of his family, it also sold a piece of land to the same company for Rs. 20 crore, far above the guidance value of Rs 1.4 crore.
The 25,228 page report has 31 chapters with 934 page summary. Apart from indicting six ministers, including the Karnataka CM BS Yeddyurappa, the Reddy brothers from Bellary and health minister B Sriramulu, the report has also indicted 784 bureaucrats and JD(S) leader and former CM HD Kumaraswamy.
It stated that between 2006 and 2010 illegal mining, transport and export of iron ore cost the exchequer Rs 16,085 crore. It notes that, in just a period of one year (2009-10) Rs 1800 crore was incurred as loss to the public exchequer, in terms of royalty. Not to spare the private players who have indulged in illegal mining of iron ore in the state, Santosh Hegde has named over 100 private companies and firms in the report.
Specially mentioning the Chief Minister Lokayukta Santosh Hegde said that a company that itself had financial troubles had donated Rs. 10 crore to a trust owned and managed by BS Yeddyurappa.
“The company also purchased an acre of land in Rachenahalli at Rs 20 crore whereas as per guidance the value of the land is just Rs 1.40 crore…This abnormal payment itself was not made by the company’s own money. The (said) company had borrowed money from other companies to donate. I find it hard to believe that a person would borrow and donate,” said Santosh Hegde The Lokayukta report has made recommendations to take action against the Reddy brothers and the Chief Minister under the Indian Penal Code, Indian Forest Act, MMDR Act and the Prevention of Corruption Act. The report has also recommended that losses should be recovered from each one of the accused, up to four times the current market value of the amount of ore mined.
Santosh Hegde who sought special protection for the officers who worked under him said that he feared “not just physical threat but also professional harassment as most of the offices are young”. He specially mentioned officers like Vishwajith Mishra and Vipin Singh. The Lokayukta team with five Indian Forest Service officers (IFS) headed by UV Singh had gone through 4,00,000 records and made 50,00,000 entries while preparing the mammoth report.
“I sincerely that the government will take some suitable action and contemplate on recovering the losses. The Supreme Court is monitoring the mining activities,” he said, further stating that he will send the report to the SC if asked to.
Earlier speaking to TEHELKA, Rajbhavan sources said Governor HR Bharadwaj won’t take more than a minute to act on the recommendations. Meanwhile, Yeddyurappa left for New Delhi on a special flight to meet with the BJP leaders on Wednesday night. The meeting that will go into the night will decide the future of politics in Karnataka.
On August 2, Santosh Hegde will demit the office of the Lokayukta.
Imran Khan is a Senior Correspondent with Tehelka.com.
G Vishnu is a Correspondent with Tehelka.com