Scalded by CEC, govt scrambling to draft its response to SC

Scalded by CEC, govt scrambling to draft its response to SC

'Rot has set in,' apex court panel has observed

Chief Minister B S Yeddyurappa on Sunday morning discussed with Chief Secretary S V Ranganath and top mining department officers the contents of the affidavit. The Apex Court has directed the State government to file its responses by April 21.

The Supreme Court appointed CEC in its report had slammed the State government for allowing illegal mining. The panel had recommended revocation of mining leases and environmental clearances granted to the indicted mining companies.

What is making the government nervous is its own lack of action, especially on the report of the Lokayukta on illegal mining submitted inNovember 2008.

“After filing the report of the Lokayukta, practically for two and a half years no effective action has been taken by the State of Karnataka ......It has taken more than two and half years for even seeking legal opinion.... This is simply not acceptable and indicates the extent to which the rot has set in and vested interests have a hold on the government”, the CEC stated in its report.

Highly placed sources said the government will wait for a response of the apex court on its affidavit before taking steps like cancelling the mining leases of the indicted companies. At the same time, the government would submit before the court that it is ready to implement the recommendations of the CEC.

The affidavit will be sent to the Advocate General for clearance on Monday, the sources added. Specifically, the CEC had submitted a total of five interim reports to the Supreme Court last week which among others dealt with 15 mining leases  illegally granted in Ramgad Forest Block, Swamimalai Forest Block and Sandur Range Forest, Bellary.

One of the interim reports dealt with illegal mining and encroachment in 1981.4 hectares of forest area in Bellary-Hospet-Sandur region by various mining leaseholders by way of mining pits and construction of roads undertaken outside the lease area.
The government’s affidavit before the Supreme Court will have responses on all the five interim reports, sources added.

‘Ready for CBI probe’

In Mysore, Yeddyurappa on Sunday said the government was ready to seek a CBI inquiry into illegal mining in Karnataka, if the Supreme Court ordered so.

“We will follow the Supreme Court’s directions. The government will cancel the permits of the iron ore companies that have been indicted in the CEC report, in a phased manner,” he told reporters.

CEC report not final: Sriramulu

Health Minister B Sriramulu said on Sunday that the report on illegal mining submitted by the Central Empowered Committee (CEC) of the Supreme Court was not final.

The Minister was speaking to reporters in Gadag. The reports about the CEC mentioning that Bellary district accounted for the highest number of illegal mining cases were mere rumours, Sriramulu said.

He refused to comment about the explanation sought by the Supreme Court from the State with regard to the CEC report.