CAG report finds KIOCL guilty

CAG report finds KIOCL guilty

Panel has recommended the State to initiate action against erring officials

The PAC has revealed that the State lost a last chance to penalise the company by collecting Rs 139.15 crore as ecological damages. The panel, for the first time, has also recommended the State to initiate action against the officials responsible for this.
Headed by the Leader of the Opposition, Siddaramaiah, the PAC has recommended disciplinary action against the then Principal Secretary, Forests and Environment and Principal Chief Conservator of Forests (PCCF) and officials, holding them responsible for letting the KIOCL go scot free, after destroying a huge portion of pristine forests of Kudremukh National Park through their indiscriminate mining.

The Company, the CAG report says, had illegally mined an additional area of 56.28 hectares and a forest offence case was slapped against them in March 2002. The environmental loss was assessed at Rs 19.33 crore. The report had also pointed out that the Company, which unauthorisedly raised the height of the Lakya dam to 100 meters submerged about 340 hectare areas (3.4 kms ) of forest land, resulting in an estimated loss of Rs 115.86 crore. Another loss of Rs 3.96 crore was assessed for construction of fresh roads and burrow pits and other activities by the Company. The total loss is Rs 139.15 crore.

 To support the CAG report, the National Remote Sensing Agency's (NRSA)  satellite images and report dated 12, April 2002 shows the ecological destruction. The NRSA data were analysed on the request of K N Murthy, the then DCF, Kudremukh Wildlife Division.
Satellite data since 1999, the year when the company's mining lease ended were compared with the 2002 images.The data sent by NRSA show that the mining area in 2002 extended towards Bhadra river. However no action has been initiated by the government against the erring company, nor was the environmental loss recovered.  Five years later, the PAC has now found that there has been delay in collecting the fine from the Company and has blamed the officials apathy for the delay. The panel pointed out that despite the HC order dated 4 March, 2004 in connection with the recovery, the State  delayed to file a Special Leave Petition before the SC.

The government even delayed seeking legal opinion in this regard. There was further delay of two months as the government permitted to file a SLP as late as  July 22, 2004. The petition was eventually filed after four more months on 5 Nov, 2004. while it should have been done within 90 days of the HC order.  It submitted records sought by the Court only on 18, Dec, 2004. The matter was rejected by the Apex Court on April 4, 2005 stating that it has been a delayed matter.

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