Mining probe may brew fresh trouble for HDK

Janthakal Enterprises under Lokayukta SIT scanner

Mining probe may brew fresh trouble for HDK

The probe into the irregularities of Janthakal Enterprises, a mining company, by the Lokayukta Special Investigation Team (SIT), is likely to cause fresh troubles for former chief minister H D Kumaraswamy.

The company owned by Vinod Goel, who was arrested by the SIT in Mumbai last week, got the lease renewed with retrospective effect on the same day under strange circumstances, when Kumaraswamy was the chief minister.

Kumaraswamy had heaved a sigh of relief in 2011 when the High Court had quashed the Lokayukta court’s proceedings against him with regard to Janthakal Enterprises. Now, with the arrest of Goel, the SIT is likely to probe Kumaraswamy in view of certain official notings made by senior IAS officer Gangaram Baderiya who was Commissioner (Mines) in 2007.

The renewal of the mining lease and permission to lift the old dump in Holalkere taluk in Chitradurga district, belonging to Janthkal Enterprises, was processed in 2007. The mining lease in Hirekandawadi and Tanigehalli villages in Holalkere was granted in 1965 in favour of Raghavendra Rao and Janthakal Enterprises claimed that the lease was transferred to it in 1967. On August 23, 2007, through two notifications, the lease was renewed for 40 years, from 1985 to 2005 and from 2005 to 2025.

Goel had also produced a letter, which he claimed was issued by the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) granting permission to Janthakal Enterprises to lift the old dump.

The Lokayukta report-2 on illegal mining, which was prepared during Justice N Santosh Hegde’s tenure, has not only explained that the entire process was invalid, but also stated an interesting noting by the then Commissioner (Mines). The noting was made when Kumaraswamy was the chief minister in 2007.

The excerpts of the noting states: “There is tremendous pressure from the honourable Chief Minister’s office as well as the honourable Chief Minister regarding the issue of working permission. This case has been followed by Vijay Kumar, suspended police officer Daya Nayak of Maharashtra, Darshan Goel and Vinod Goel. Honourable CM has given ultimatum that the permission should be given within two hours, without loss of time.”

Sources in the SIT said that Goel will be questioned in connection with all aspects of the cases against him. Goel is in police custody till Friday and the SIT sleuths have taken him to Mumbai, Chitradurga, Karwar and Goa. “The probe into irregularities in all mining companies owned by Goel is going on. The role played by officials and elected representatives will come at the later stage,” an official said.

When the forgery of MoEF letter came to light, Range Forest Officer, Chitradurga, had filed a complaint.

Vinod Goel had approached the High Court of Karnataka and obtained a stay on investigation.

The SIT wrote to the Chitradurga district police to take steps to vacate the stay. After the stay was vacated, the case was transferred to the SIT three months ago.

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