Mines leasing: Eshwarappa wants CM to correct mistake

Leader of the Opposition in the Legislative Council K S Eshwarappa, on Sunday, released an open letter addressed to Chief Minister Siddaramaiah exhorting him to correct the mistake by revoking the decision to renew the lease period of 10 mining companies.

Addressing media here, Eshwarappa released the letter — timing with the chief minister’s stay in the city. He also promised to send a copy of the letter to the CM’s office.

Eshwarappa, who also released a set of documents in this connection, alleged that the chief minister has renewed licences for iron ore mining on 2,385 acres of land in violation of the Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Act, 1957.

Eshwarappa said, the Central government promulgated an ordinance to amend the Act on January 12 that mandates State governments to auction licences through competitive bidding. However, the State government chose to extend the lease during different periods through the renewal method, causing a loss of thousands of crores to the exchequer.

Eshwarappa charged that some among the companies that availed the benefit are under scanner, like MSPL, M/s Sesasterlite Mines, M/s KMMI (Kariganuru Minerals), M/s MEL (BH) and Sesagoa.

MSPL blamed

The Criminal Investigation Department (CID), in its report submitted to the Supreme Court, has blamed MSPL for illegal mining, while Sesasterlite is under the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) probe. The Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG), in his report, has taken exception to Kariganuru for not paying over Rs 10 crore mining contract amount. The other two companies are accused of illegally exporting of ore from Belekeri port.
Eshwarappa questioned the chief minister if he was not aware of the companies facing probe at different levels.

Loss

Stopping short of blaming the chief minister of receiving undue favours to extend the mining lease, Eshwarappa said: “I don’t know whether the chief minister has received any kickback. But, he will be solely responsible for the loss incurred by renewing the lease period, than auctioning them”.

Eshwarappa said, earlier, when Energy Minister D K Shivakumar was accused of irregularities in awarding a tender, he realised his mistake and corrected it.

The BJP wants to follow the same method, by alerting the chief minister to correct his mistake, said Eshwarappa.

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