Scam loss recovery hits a wall as errant miner 'has no assets'

Scam loss recovery hits a wall as errant miner 'has no assets'

Scam loss recovery hits a wall as errant miner 'has no assets'

A miner slapped with a penalty of Rs 67.65 crore for illegal mining has no assets in his name. That means the government can do little to recover money lost in a multi-crore scam in ore-rich Ballari district.

The Ballari tahsildar has written to the department of mines and geology that Shaik Sab, who has to pay the penalty, has no assets in his name or in the names of his family.

Proceedings of a Cabinet sub-committee meeting reveal that in two cases, miners named in the scam report could have outsmarted the government. The recovery notice sent to Sab says 54,120 tonnes of iron ore were stolen and exported by a contractor. The loss to the state exchequer in the form of royalty and taxes was estimated at Rs 13.53 crore.

Going by the Lokayukta report on illegal mining, the department had slapped a penalty five times the loss, and it came to Rs 67.65 crore.

When Sab did not reply to the recovery notice, the government decided to recover the money using Section 190 of the Karnataka Land Revenue Act.

“The section allows for the recovery of losses from royalties, fees, and other charges,'' an official source said.

With the district administration writing that the miner holds no assets, the recovery process has ground to a halt.

Sab owned Indian Mines and Minerals (Lease No 2,572) in Siddapura in Sandur taluk of Ballari district. It was granted a mining lease in January 2008.

In August 2009, he entered into a partnership with K Mahfouz Ali Khan, a close associate of former minister G Janardhana Reddy, and Syed Asimuddin.  The Lokayukta report states that Indian Mines and Minerals was being controlled by the ‘incorporating individuals.’ The income tax department found that 16 mines, including Indian Mines and Minerals, were directly or indirectly controlled by Mahfouz Ali Khan.

The mining was carried out beyond the boundaries stipulated in the leases. A large quantity of iron ore was illicitly extracted and despatched, according to the Lokayukta.

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