CBI raids mining firms in 10 cities

Search operations in B'lore, Bellary, Hospet, Belgaum; Anil Lad's firm in Sandur among targets

CBI raids mining firms in 10 cities

The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI), which is investigating the illegal export of 21 lakh tonnes of iron ore from Belekeri port in Uttara Kannada district, raided 19 locations in 10 cities, including five in the State, on Thursday.

The premier investigating agency raided the offices and premises in Bangalore, Bellary, Hospet, Sandur and Belgaum of mining companies, transporters and trading firms.

Outside the State, it carried out raids in Goa, Salem (Tamil Nadu), Kolkata, Mumbai (Goregaon).

In Bellary, the CBI sleuths raided the Inna Reddy Colony office of Bharat Mines and Minerals (BMM), owned by Dinesh Singhi, and examined various documents. The operation went on till evening. The company’s office near Danapur in Hospet taluk was also raided.

Similar raids were carried out at the office of VSL mining company, owned by MLA Anil Lad, in Sandur town. In Hospet town, the CBI raided the offices and residences of the owners of various companies.

In Belgaum, the branch office of BMM Ispat at Udyambag industrial estate was raided. The CBI officials had arrived in four vehicles. They examined the documents and took away some of the files. Vehicles belonging to the Central Board of Excise and Customs were also seen during the raid.

In Hospet, the house of businessman ILC Somashekhar, who is already in the CBI custody, was raided. Some documents were seized.

The CBI has registered 22 cases on the directions of the Supreme Court in connection with illegal export from the Belekeri port. It had named 15 companies, six partnership firms and two proprietory concerns, besides 50 individuals, in the First Information Report (FIR). The FIR also named officials of Mines and Geology and Forest departments.

The suspects have been booked for cheating and forgery among others under the IPC and the Prevention of Corruption Act. Provisions of the Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Act, 1957, and Section 24 of Karnataka Forest Act, 1963, have also been invoked against them.

“The mining of iron ore, without permit, including such mining in forest land in Bellary district, and connected trading and export of iron ore are already under the investigation of CBI through the report of the central empowered committee,” the agency said in a statement.

Similar irregularities

In September 2012, the committee had informed the Supreme Court that similar irregularities had been committed in the extraction of 50.79 lakh tonnes from forest areas of Karnataka from 2009 to 2010. After a directive of the Supreme Court, the agency registered a preliminary inquiry and booked 22 cases against exporters who have shipped above 50,000 tonnes of iron ore. The cases of 39 others who exported below 50,000 tonnes have been referred to the State government.

Last September, the CBI arrested Kampli MLA, T H Suresh Babu — a close associate of the jailed former minister Gali Janardhana Reddy — in connection with this case. A joint owner of Devi Enterprises, he, along with Reddy, was allegedly involved in illegally exporting iron ore worth hundreds of crores of rupees from Belekeri port.

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