AP corners Reddys

Govt notices run parallel to Yeddyurappas political travails


This is the fifth such notice that the Andhra Forest Department has sent to the Reddys who, it seems, have brazenly defied legal action. The November 1 notice, a copy of which is available with Deccan Herald, was received by the Reddys on Monday. So far, the Reddys’ representatives have only written to Principal Chief Conservator of Forests (PCCF) Shivashankar Reddy that the Divisional Forest Officer concerned had issued the notices in haste.

The fifth notice was preceded by four previous ones sent to the Reddys –– one on October 26, two on October 28, and another on October 30 –– indicating an incremental tightening of screws on the powerful siblings’ mining interests by the AP government after former chief minister YSR Reddy’s untimely death. The flurry of notices also coincided with the date on which the Reddys and their  supporters tried to destabilise the B S Yeddyurappa government.

The latest notice, issued by Anantapur Divisional Forest Officer (DFO) Kallol Biswas, who has been sanctioned the authority by the higher-ups to pursue all legal action against the Reddys’ alleged unauthorised mining interests, refers to the Obalapuram Mining Company’s (OMC) 68.50 hectares of the mining lease in Antharagangamma Konda, located between Malapanagudi and Siddapuram villages in Anantapur district. The name of the other company is Anantapura Mining Corporation (AMC).
In the notice, Biswas said: “I am of the prima facie view that the mineral brought from Karnataka was transported through the mining lease area and was sold from Andhra Pradesh….Therefore, we are hereby called upon to explain the illegality within seven days from the date of receipt of the notice, in default the same will be informed to the government for appropriate penal action including withdrawal of the clearance granted under Section (2) of the Forest Conservation Act on approval from the Central Government”.

According to the DFO, the Reddys have uprooted/destroyed the boundary pillars between the mining lease areas which is a non-bailable offence. In particular,  Janardhana Reddy is liable to pay a penalty of Rs 1,000 crore for mining without valid permit over 6.5 hectare area. In addition, he may face imprisonment for a maximum of six months.

The mining area is in the contiguous Bellary reserve forest spreads over AP and Karnataka. On a personal inspection of the area on October 31, the DFO found that mining operations in the leased area were on a small scale involving shallow pits of low grade iron ore.

In fact, he also found that iron ore was being transported using unauthorised roads in the mining area.
It is revealed that OMC obtained permits that allows them to transport 27 lakh tonnes of iron ore from the lease-hold area. But there is huge discrepancy between mining operations in the area and the provisions of the permits for ore transportation. Holding the Reddys culpable, Biswas pointed out in the November 1 notice that it was impossible to produce such huge quantities of iron ore after removing waste from just two-metre deep excavated pits.

During Biswas’ inspection he found that trucks crossing over from Karnataka to Andhra, traversing the wide roads illegally laid in the lease area, carried high grade iron ore which was being transported by fully utilising the permit.
This, Biswas said, implied that ore, mined outside the lease area, was being brought into Andhra.

When asked what quantity of iron ore was being illegally transported by OMC, Biswas said the precise quantum would be difficult to assess since illegal operations have been on for the past two years.
“Unless the company’s tax return documents are examined, we may not be able to assess the extent of violation,” Biswas said. The first notice slapped on the Reddys on May 9 brought to attention of the siblings the illegal road construction in the reserve forest area where OMC has a mining lease covering 68.5 hectares.
The other notices pertain to complaints on illegal mining, encroachment of reserve forest area as well as other companies’ mining areas, construction of illegal roads in the forests and transporting ore in violation of the permits.
Commenting on the OMC’s response, Biswas said that “the company has said it would reply to the PCCF and the same would not be shown to me”.

Tycoons put on notice for illegalities

May 9, 2009:     DFO writes to OMC regarding the     company’s illegal mining over 6.5 ha

Oct 26:     Illegal road construction across 68.5 ha of lease area in reserve forest

Oct 28:     Uprooting  of mining boundary pillars between Siddapura & Obalapuram
    villages

Oct 28:     Destroying boundary pillars between Andhra Pradesh & Karnataka

Oct 30:    Pulled up for mining without permission in 6.5 ha of lease area

Nov 1:     Illegal transportation of ore from Karnataka to Andhra Pradesh

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