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Illegal mining fed the tribe of bribe

Asha Krishnaswamy, Bangalore, August 17, DHNS:

Top bureaucrats to small fry, all took bribes, claims report

From senior officers to lowly clerks, few could resist the lure of big bucks offered by 'GJ Reddy Sir', according to the U V Singh investigative report that is part of the larger findings of the Lokyukta on illegal mining in Karnataka.

Although the report does not reveal who ‘GJ Reddy Sir’ is, the mystery name appears to be that of a very important minister in the Yeddyurappa ministry, who is also a mining baron.

Commissioners to drivers, superintendents of police to constables and even a deputy director of mines and geology seem to have done favours to ‘GJ Reddy Sir’, enabling illegal mining in Bellary and other districts, return for bribes paid by the henchmen of the mining baron.

The U V Singh report lists 617 names of government employees of various ranks and from various departments who may have received bribes ranging between Rs 200 and Rs 15,00,000 from Karapudi Mahesh (K Mahesh), a known benami mining operator for the Bellary Reddys. The total bribe paid to officials is indicated as Rs 2,46,62,377, mainly between 2009 and 2010.


In the chapter titled ‘Collapse of Administrative and Governance System’, the report listed the names of officers on Mahesh’s payroll, and also the exact amount paid to any officer who facilitated illegal mining and transport. In some cases, the name, designation and amount are mentioned, and in some, only the designation or the name. The report conceded that the list covers only a certain period and is incomplete.

Under the head ‘Department Expenses (Amount paid as bribe)’, the report mentions that Mahesh has paid Rs 4,20,000 to an Additional SP from 1/12/09 to 28/02/10, Additional SP (Gopi) – Rs 10,500 (17/1/10 to 02/04/10), Ajjappa, ASI, Traffic Police, Hospet – Rs 2,25,000 (14/11/09 to 8/3/10), DFO office monthly Rs 15,000 (June 2007), Director DMG Rs 10,000 (18/3/10); DMG check-post – Rs 8,000 (16/11/09-16/12/09), DMG driver – Rs 2,500 (10/3/10); DMG officer permit – Rs 25,000 (June 2007); Gangavati DSP – Rs 25500 (14/1/10); Gopal Krishna Yellapur – Rs 25,000 (15/02/10).

Apparently, Mahesh, who ran the ‘risk transport’ network that facilitates the free movement of lorries carrying ore in return for a fee, scrupulously maintained details of the officers, the amounts paid to them and the dates on which the bribes were paid in his computers.

The computers were seized by the Director of Income Tax (Investigation), I-T Department, Bangalore, during a raid on Mahesh’s office in 2010. Subsequently, the data was passed on to the Lokayukta police officers on a pen drive marked as ‘Karapudi Mahesh’, on February 21, 2011.

After examining all the records, a consolidated list was prepared of the sums of money paid on various dates to officials of various departments as bribe for securing favours. The bribes total about Rs 2.46 crore, the report said.

The miner-officer nexus is spread over the districts of Bellary, Chitradurga, Tumkur, Bangalore, Kolar, Davangere, Haveri, Koppal, Gadag, Raichur, Gulbarga, Bijapur, Bagalkot, Belgaum, Dharwad and Uttara Kannada as as well as all along the roads from Bellary to Krishnapatnam (Andhra Pradesh).

The favour extended in return for the bribe is non-inspection of overloads, trip sheets and way permits, and allowing lifting the waste dumps on all types of lands and evasion of royalty among others, the report said. 

It said that 93 persons /firms /companies /others were engaged by Karapudi Mahesh and his associates during the last two years for facilitating the illegal iron ore trade.

The trade itself, over a period of six months - November 2009 and April 2010 was worth Rs 62,92,36,810. The figures are indicative and the list was not exhaustive, the U V Singh report states.

Common

While providing the list of 93 names, the report said the names that figure are very common in illegal mining iron ore trade. Some of the names are A L Rafiq Enterprises – Rs 15,00,000 (10.1.09), A Shashi Bellary – Rs 30,24,000 (15.3.10), Chiranjeevi Rs 4,00,000 (18.11.09), Anand Singh Fans – Rs 2,00,000 (18.11.09).

The report has revealed that the records seized by the Income Tax department from the premises of Associated Mining Company of Janardhana Reddy has thrown light on the bribes paid by the firm too.

Damning disclosures

*Karapudi Mahesh paid Rs 2.46 cr to officials
*Risk amount received by Mahesh from 382 people amount to Rs 40.93 cr
*93 people pursued llegal ore trade of s 62.93 cr through Mahesh
*Karwar Lokayukta SP received Rs 25,000 bribe on April 12, 2010
*Pradeep, DMG, received bribe Rs 15,000 during March 9-18, 2010
*Shankar, ACF, received bribe Rs 15,000  between Jan 13, 2010 and Feb19, 2010

(Note- Risk amount is paid by iron ore traders to Mahesh for safe delivery of pilfered iron ore to various destinations)


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