The state government has failed to recover losses caused to the exchequer due to illegal mining in the state.
Department of Mines and Geology (DMG) had issued notices to 105 miners and individuals for recovery of Rs 134 crore in March 2017, by giving one month's time. However, even after three months, not a single recovery case has been successful.
The step to recover losses was taken by the DMG based on the investigation reports of Special Investigation Team (SIT). In September 2012, the government had set up the SIT to probe cases of illegal mining and export of less than 50,000 MT of iron ore. Based on the charge sheets filed by the SIT, which has details of quantity of iron ore illegally mined and exported, the DMG issued recovery notices. The notices were issued to various mining companies and individuals under Section 21 (5) of the MMDR Act .
Sources said that this was the first step taken by the government to recover the loss. The notice mentioned the CEC report, subsequent Supreme Court directions and SIT charge sheets and stated: “You are hereby asked to show cause as to why you should not be called upon to pay above said value of the material, along with the other persons involved in above illegality, on or before 05-04-2017, failing which action will be initiated to recover the amount under Section 25 of MMDR Act. This is only a recovery proceedings and will not stop the criminal proceedings which have been initiated by the respective investigating agencies. (sic)'”
A senior official said that such notices were issued to sitting MLAs B Nagendra (Kudligi) and Anand Singh (Vijayanagar), who own mining leases in Ballari district and have been chargesheeted by the SIT and, also to illegal transporters of iron ore in Ballari such as ‘Kharapudi’ Mahesh and ‘Swastik’ Nagaraj and others.
Sources said that while recovery process has hit a wall, the state government renewed licences of certain miners whose names also figure in the list of 105 who have been slapped with notices. Miners say that the move by the state government amounts to levying penalty from two sources simultaneously.
“Notices issued by the department (Mines and Geology) is both against ‘B’ and ‘C’ category mines. The Supreme Court has already ordered recovery of penalty from ‘C’ category mines and the contribution has gone towards R&R (reclamation and rehabilitation). Same is the case with the ‘B’ category mines. Issuing notices to very companies, seeking penalty, amounts to double jeopardy,” said Basant Poddar, Member of Federation of Indian Mineral Industries.
‘Rs 16K crore loss to state’
The Lokayukta report had stated that 2.98 crore tonnes of illicit iron ore was mined and exported during 2006-2010. The report had named 787 officials and 100 companies as responsible for illegal mining. The report said the loss to the state exchequer during the said period was Rs 16,085 crore.