BJP accuses govt of favouring seven mining leaseholders

BJP accuses govt of favouring seven mining leaseholders

The BJP has accused the Congress gover­n­­ment of favouring select seven mining leaseholders in the State by giving a Letter of Intent (LoI) to them to extend the lease for 20 years.

Leader of the Opposition Jagadish Shettar, raising the issue in the Legislative Assembly on Friday, said issuance of the LoI to these mining owners was a violation of the Centre’s ordinance.

Shettar said the LoI had been issued to Kariganur Mineral Mining Industries, Upendran, Tumkur Minerals Pvt Ltd, Karnataka Limpo Cement Industries, Veerabhadrappa Sangappa and Co, Mineral Enterprises Ltd and Sesa Sterlite Ltd. Besides, the government has tried to grant mining lease to MSPL and K Sridhar.

The BJP leader read out a letter written by the Bangalore Chamber of Industry and Commerce (BCIC) to the Prime Minister, a copy of which has been forwarded to officials at the Centre and the State BJP leaders.

The letter, dated Feb 4, 2015, stated that the Centre promulgated an ordinance to amend the Mines and Minerals Development & Regulation (MMDR) Act 1957 on January 12. The ordinance has made provision for auctioning mining lease through competitive bidding.

All states have to follow this rule of auctioning to maintain transparency. The applications/ recommendations by the states, for which the Centre has not issued its approval, will stand rejected, the BCIC said.

Before the final ordinance came into force, the Ministry of Mines posted the draft MMDR (Amendment) on its website in November last and sought opinion from the public. When many important developments were taking place, the Karnataka government chose a path against the interest of the public.

During the first and second week of January, the State government hurriedly issued the LoI to renew the mines leases for select seven parties for another 20 years.

Shettar said even MSPL and Sridhar were recommended to the Centre for extension of lease. The BCIC said the State government hurriedly chose to assist a select few by conferring undue favour relating to mineral concessions, which otherwise would have been auctioned. 

It also requested the prime minister to intervene and direct the State to follow the ordinance.

Shettar said, “The request for extending the lease by leaseholders was pending for the last two years. But the present government, which talks about transparency in administration, decided to extend the lease period. This shows the vested interest of the government.” 

None from the ruling party, including ministers, reacted to the charges made by the BJP leader. 

Later, when reporters asked Shettar whether the lease had been extended as intended by the government, he said, “The Union mining department and the Environment Ministry have to give their clearance and till then the lease will not be extended.”

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