Govt throws mining muck at HDK

Govt throws mining muck at HDK

The BJP alleged that Kumaraswamy had ordered the renewal of 80.94 hectare of iron ore mining lease in favour of a Mumbai-based firm in Chitradurga in 2007 throwing all rules to the wind. Suspended police officer of Maharashtra Daya Nayak was among those who allegedly lobbied to get the lease renewed.

Janthakal Enterprises, the lease holder company, applied for the renewal of mining licence at the lease area located in the Hirekandawadi and Tanigehalli villages of Holalkere taluk in Chitradurga in 2005. But the Mines and Geology Department had refused to renew it in the absence of mandatory forest clearance certificate from the Centre.

But the then chief minister, Kumaraswamy, issued strict direction to the then commissioner of mines and geology to renew the licence in February 2007, and the officials meekly followed the order, according to the documents distributed to the media. Kumaraswamy was chief minister between 2006 and 2007.

The lease was renewed for 40 years,  from 1985 to 2005 and from 2005 to 2025. It was in 1965 that the 20-year lease was first awarded to one Raghavendra Rao, who subsequently transferred it to Janthakal Enterprises.

Further, as per the documents, the company sought permission to lift about one lakh metric tonnes of low grade ore worth about Rs 400 crore from the lease area. Again the department refused to grant permission in the absence of forest clearance. The then chief minister intervened and gave an ultimatum to the commissioner to sanction permission within two hours. After granting permission, the commissioner dashed off a letter dated September 11, 2009, to the Commerce and Industries Department principal secretary explaining his action against the rule.

“There is tremendous pressure from the CM office.  The CM spoke to me regarding the issue of working permission, which is not at all possible in the absence of Forest Clearance and Environment Clearance.

They have been moving hell and heaven and the CM also spoke to me thrice. The honourable CM issued an ultimatum that the permission should be given within two hours, without loss of time, he stated in the letter.

The commissioner also mentioned the names of Daya Nayak, Darshan Goel, Vinod Goel and Vijay Kumar (said to own the company) as persons who brought pressure on him in this regard.

Chief Minister Yeddyurappa’s political secretary B J Puttaswamy, who released the documents to back all these allegations, said the State Forest Department refused to violate the rule book and insisted the company should produce forest clearance to lift ore.

Then the company, Puttaswamy alleged, produced a fictitious letter dated February 14, 2008, purportedly from the director-general of forest, GOI, giving approval to lift ore. The State Forest Department, which suspected foul play, sought a clarification on the genuineness of the letter. The Centre, in turn, confirmed that the letter was fake and directed initiating criminal action against the mine owners and all those responsible, he stated.

According to Puttaswamy, criminal cases have been filed against Daya Nayak and Vinod Goyal in Chikkajajur police station in Chitradurga and the investigation is on. Besides, the government has referred the case to the Lokayukta for a detailed probe.

Puttaswamy said iron ore worth about Rs 400 crore would have been shipped abroad illegally if the officials had followed Kumaraswamy’s order. The BJP government which subsequently came to power has got a Supreme Court stay on all illegal orders. 

“Kumaraswamy had received hundreds of crores as kickback by favouring mining companies like Janthakal Enterprises during his tenure as the chief minister,” he added.

Get a round-up of the day's top stories in your inbox

Check out all newsletters

Get a round-up of the day's top stories in your inbox