CBI arrests four in mine encroachment case

The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on Wednesday arrested four people, including Rajendra Kumar Jain, the head of Deccan Mining Syndicate (DMS), and N Vishwanathan, a retired additional chief secretary.

The arrests were made following an investigation in pursuant of the Central Empowered Committee’s (CEC) finding that DMS had encroached on mines owned by the National Mineral Development Corporation (NMDC).

Sources in the CBI said the agency also arrested Ritesh Milapchand Jain, a senior executive of DMS, and police inspector Ramakanth Hullar. All the four have been remanded in the custody of the CBI.

Earlier, the CEC, in its submission to the Supreme Court, had accused the promoters of DMS of encroaching on mines owned by NMDC at Donimalai in Sandur, Bellary.
The CEC report had estimated that the encroachment had cost NMDC, a public sector company, a wrongful loss of Rs 100 crore.

“It was based on this report that the Supreme Court had referred the case to us for further investigation,” the source said.

Sources said that DMS had been leased a 50-acre plot by the government in 1966. When the leasehold was to be renewed in 1996, the Department of Mines and Geology had submitted a report blacklisting DMS for having stolen iron ore from NMDC.

There is an allegation that Vishwanathan, who was then the Principal Secretary to the Department of Commerce and Industries, overlooked this adverse report and renewed the lease.

He also aided the company by allegedly changing the sketch of the land leased to them, another source claimed, adding that the new lease included mining areas that belonged to NMDC.

Stating that the police had not taken action despite NMDC officials wanting to file an FIR, sources said the sub-inspector had repeatedly turned the officials away in 2009.
Later, when the complaint was finally accepted, the sub-inspector is said to have asked NMDC officials to change a section of their complaint. “The complaint, after this change, only asked the police to do the needful and not insist on filing an FIR,” a source said, adding that this was found by the CEC during its investigation.

The CBI investigation has found that the sub-inspector was acting on the instructions of his superior, Ramakanth Hullar.

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