Ex-director in dock for issuing mining permits recklessly

Ex-director in dock for issuing mining permits recklessly

Government forfeits his retirement benefits

The Government has in its order dated October 4, 2010, found Reddy guilty of issuing illegal permits to lift and transport large quantity of iron ore and manganese on patta land in Bellary, Chitraduraga, Belgaum and Chikamagalur districts in 2004, causing an estimated Rs 6.14 lakh revenue loss (in terms of royalty) to the State exchequer. The officer retired from service in 2004. Post retirement he was associated with JB Pacific Mining Corporation.

The total loss in terms of value of minerals illegally mined due to the decision has not been taken into account. The loss in term of value of minerals runs into several hundred crore rupees. The official’s decision to allow reckless mining on patta land triggered rampant illegal mining, especially in the iron-ore rich Bellary district. Many mining firms and influential persons in mining business reaped rich benefits due to these illegal permissions.

Reddy, as per the investigation by the Karnataka Lokayukta, directed Deputy Directors of the department in these districts to issue permits to lift and transport ore on patta land in 82 cases. The permits were illegally issued to those who neither had mining leases nor license to do any business in minerals.

 As per the section 4(1) of Mines and minerals (Development and Regulation) Act, 1957, one has to obtain necessary permissions from the Centre to conduct mining. Section 4(1)(a) stipulates that one should obtain valid licenses to store and transport ore. But Reddy has illegally allowed lifting and transportation of ore on patta land by violating all these rules.

“It is a Central Act. The State Government does not have powers to allow mining and transportation on patta land without consulting the Centre. However, the officer has thrown all these rules to the winds and issued permits at the fag end of his service,” the Government order stated quoting the Lokayukta report.

Interestingly, Reddy in his reply to the Lokayukta during its investigation, has defended his action by saying that he got written directions from the Chief Minister’s office to issue permits.

Besides, he stated that the farmers in these districts had accumulated large quantity of ore while levelling their land (patta land) for farming activities. So, they were allowed to lift and transport ore to enable them to take up farming activities. He also said that he alone has been targeted though two of his successors -- Yogendra Tripati and Gangaram Baderiya -- too had issued such permits. But he failed to corroborate his defence with proofs, the order said.