Mining lease to OMC was cleared by my boss: Srilakshmi

Without naming the then minister, Srilakshmi, the then Industries and Commerce Department secretary, said "it is pertinent to mention that the file was duly processed to the concerned Minister and after her approval only, the order was passed.

"I am only a signatory to the draft GO or the GO issued subsequently though the GO was issued in the name of the Secretary", she told the Special CBI court.

Srilakshmi said she, on being asked by the Centre, had subsequently forwarded the shortlisted list containing the respective names of (mining) applicants which was processed by Director of Mines and Geology and further processed by her office.

She submitted that under Mines and Minerals (Development & Regulation) Act, it is the government of India which has to approve the leases and also to stipulate conditions as deemed fit and not the state government.

Srilakshmi, apprehended by CBI on Monday last, moved a bail petition, through her counsel, before the court saying she was only a party to processing of file, resulting in the issuance of the Government Order granting the mining lease (to OMC) which was provisionaly granted by the state government one year prior to her taking charge.

Srilakshmi, now Commissioner of Health and Family Welfare, was arrested on the charge of criminal conspiracy and abusing her official position and showing favours to OMC in her capacity as the then Secretary of Industries and Commerce department.

In the bail plea, which the court posted for hearing tomorrow, Srilakshmi said she joined as Secretary Industries (Mining) department on May 17, 2006, and pointed out "the Government of Andhra Pradesh by its letter dated November 4, 2005, not only granted provisional lease of mines to OMC but also communicated the same to the said company to enable the company to obtain further clearences from Forest department and Mining Bureau".

"The provisional grant of lease by government of Andhra Pradesh was one year prior to the petitioner (Srilakshmi) joining as Secretary in the department," Srilakshmi said in her bail application and described the allegation that she favoured OMC as not only "false" but "suppression of material facts".

Referring to the controversy over alleged willful omission of the word 'Captive Mining' in the government order, Srilakshmi claimed it is without any material and is in fact contrary to documentary evidence collected by the investigating agency.

Srilakshmi has been named as an accused in the illegal mining case along with OMC-owned by former Karnataka minister Gali Janardhan Reddy, OMC Managing Director B V Srinivas Reddy and the then Mining and Geology Director V D Rajagopal all of whom are in jail.

CBI had earlier charged Srilakshmi with conspiring with the accused and ensuring that they got the mining lease of 68. 5 hectares in AGK mines owned by OMC.
The agency has also examined Home Minister P Sabita Reddy, who was a former Minister for Mines, in connection with the OMC case last month.

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