Krishna, HDK, Dharam in FIR on illegal mining

Krishna, HDK, Dharam in FIR on illegal mining

Lokayukta special court orders probe

Krishna, HDK, Dharam in FIR on illegal mining

In the same FIR, the names of two other former Karnataka chief ministers Dharam Singh and H D Kumaraswamy have also been included for their alleged roles in promoting illegal mining in the State. The FIR was filed on the orders of the Special Lokayukta Court in Bangalore.

The court directed the Lokayukta police to investigate the allegations made in a private complaint filed by T J Abraham, regional director of the NGO, Y’s Men International and a businessman, stating that the former chief ministers—Krishna is External Affairs Minister—along with 11 officials were responsible for indulging in corruption in illegal mining and causing loss to the exchequer.

A special team headed by Lokayukta SP of Tumkur S M Jagadeesh Prasad will conduct the State-wide probe.

The Special Lokayukta Court has sought a report on the case on January 6. The police lodged the FIR under Prevention of Corruption Act, the Karnataka Forest Act and the Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulations) Act.

The complaint accuses Krishna of committing illegalities in relation to granting of leases for mining in Karnataka during his tenure as the chief minister between October 1999 and May 2004. As far as the others are concerned, the complaint points out that no action has been taken, even though they have been implicated in the first and second report on illegal mining submi­tted to the government by former Lokayukta Santhosh Hegde.

In New Delhi, Krishna refuted the allegations, saying he had no role in issuing licences for mining as chief minister and expressed confidence that the judiciary will put to rest “unholy attempts” at his character assassination.

The External Affairs minister said: “I find from media reports that a private complaint has been filed in the Hon’ble Court dealing with Lokayukta cases in Bangalore. I am given to understand that allegations have been made against me, two other ex-chief ministers and a number of officers.”Krishna said while his legal team would take “appropriate action at the appropriate time”, he considered it necessary to clarify matters as “silence on my part would give rise to speculation”.  Krishna stated: “I wish to point out that I never retained the portfolio of Mines and Geology. Further, to the best of my knowledge, no mining licence was issued during my tenure.”

According to the complaint, during his tenure as chief minister Krishna illegally amassed wealth in the name of his family members, including his children and in-laws, and also in the names of his erstwhile close Cabinet colleagues in return for de-reserving forest land for private companies. In one case, an agr­eement with Kalyani Ferrous re­quired Mysore Minerals Li­mited (MML) to pay an interest of 10 per cent on the advance amount paid by Kalyani, even though such an agreement was not to be found with other companies. It also indicates losses of Rs 25.72 crores caused to MML due to its mining agreement with Vijayanagar Mines Private Limited and Jindal.

De-reserving forest land
In yet another case,  Krishna is accused of de-reserving thousands of acres of forest lands in Bellary and other places and sanctioning it to 10 private companies in 2003, despite opposition from the then Minister of Forests and the Secretary of the Forests Department. The complaint further states following the de-reservation, 82 mining permits were issued in 2004 and 59 permits were issued in 2006 and was the precursor to the large scale illegal mining that was traced in the Lokayukta reports.

The complaint accuses Dharam Singh of issuing temporary transport permits for movement of iron ore and manganese ore from agricultural lands not held under mining lease and violating rules. This has resulted in a loss of Rs 23.22 crore. It also states that the money obtained was directed towards investments in pr­operties acquired by Dharam Singh’s family.

H D Kumaraswamy is accused of approving illegal mining licence to Sai Venkateshw­ara Minerals in Bellary and renewing the lease of Janthakal Enterprises in Chitradurga illegally. The complaint accuses him of diverting the illegal mo­n­ey obtained through these favours, in the name of H D Balakrishna, his elder brother who is already the subject of another private complaint for amassing wealth disproportionate to his income.