IAS officer held in mining case

IAS officer held in mining case
The Special Investigation Team (SIT), probing illegal mining cases in the state, on Monday arrested senior IAS officer Gangaram Baderiya for allowing a mining company to lift iron ore after receiving a bribe of Rs 10 lakh through cheque. A 1989 batch officer, Baderiya is serving as secretary, revenue department. He was produced before a magistrate, who remanded him in police custody till May 18.

The case relates to granting permission to Janthakal Enterprises, a company owned by mining baron Vinod Goel, to lift iron ore on the basis of two forged letters of Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF).

The Lokay­ukta report on illegal mining (part-2) had stated that Janthakal Enterprises submitted forged MoEF letters of no objection to lift and transport iron ore in old dumps in Chitradurga. Goel’s application seeking permission to lift iron ore was pending before Baderiya in 2007.

SIT officials found that around the same time Goel had issued a cheque for Rs 10 lakh in favour of Gagan Baderiya, son of Gangaram Baderiya. “The amount was credited in the account of Gagan Baderiya. The accused IAS officer, who was then director, Mines and Geology Department, accorded permission based on the letters issued by the MoEF, which were forged by Goel,” an official said. Immediately after the permission was accorded, Janthakal Enterprises lifted and transported 1.70 lakh MT of iron ore.

When the forgery came to light, a Range Forest Officer in Chitradurga filed a complaint with the Chikkajajur police in Chitradurga district. Goel had approached the High Court of Karnataka and obtained a stay on the investigation. Subsequently, the stay was vacated and the case was transferred to SIT in 2014. The SIT arrested Goel in June 2015.

Background
The mining lease in Hirekandawadi and Tanigehalli villages in Holalkere was granted in 1965 in favour of Raghavendra Rao. 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 and  permission was also given to lift and transport iron ore.

More trouble for HDK?
The Lokayukta report-2 on illegal mining has an interesting note by Gangaram Baderiya before the permission was accorded to Janthakal Enterprises. The noting was made when H D Kumaraswamy was the chief minister.

The excerpts of the noting: “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.” A senior SIT official said that Kumaraswamy's name has not figured in the investigation so far.

In August 2015, Kumaraswamy was arrested and released on anticipatory bail in the case of granting mining lease to Sri Sai Venkateshwara Minerals (SSVM), also owned by Goel. This case was registered by the SIT based on certain illegalities in granting mining lease to SSVM, mentioned in the Lokayukta report (part-2). Of the 29 applications received by the Director of Mines and Geology in respect of land in NEB Range (Sandur taluk, Ballari district), SSVM's was the last application. However, on October 5, 2007, when the file was placed, Kumaraswamy made a note directing the officials to consider SSVM for the lease.

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