HDK: CM's office involved in Rs 5,450-crore mining scam

HDK: CM's office involved in Rs 5,450-crore mining scam

 JD(S) state president H D Kumaraswamy on Saturday charged that the Siddaramaiah-led Congress government had indulged in rampant illegal mining activities with more than Rs 5,450 crore worth of iron ore being illegally lifted and transported by officials of the state-owned Mysore Minerals Ltd (MML) between 2014 and 2017.

Addressing reporters in Bengaluru, Kumaraswamy said that an internal enquiry by senior officers of MML had revealed that 60,56,440 MT of ore had been lifted and sold by the MML during the said period. "Three times of this quantity has been illegally mined and sold," Kumarswamy claimed.

He said the MML had permitted Subbarayanahalli Iron Ore Mines and Thimmappanagudi Iron Ore Mines to mine ore in Sandur taluk in Ballari district.

Contracts had also been awarded (from November 27, 2014 to March 31, 2017) to S S Muchandi (excavation); Amit Earth Movers (drilling); Vishal Enterprises (crushing/screening); and South West Mining Ltd (excavation).

Kumaraswamy said that Rs 2,062 crore worth of ore was illegally lifted and transported within the state between 2014 and 2015 itself. Officials had shown records of less quantity of ore being mined, while the quantum of ore excavated was much higher, he said.

He said that as many as eight IAS officers who had tried to expose the scam had been transferred by the government in quick succession. "IAS officer Munish Moudgil was transferred one month after he took charge. The office of the chief minister is directly involved in this illegality," he said.

He said the IAS officer Tushar Girinath was heading the department at the height of the scam. He is now the principal secretary to the chief minister.

"The government was forced to constitute the enquiry committee after yet another honest IAS officer
P Hemalatha wanted to refer the matter to the Lokayukta. She was shunted out in three months," he said.

He also said that though the contractors had single permits, they had made multiple trips and transported the raw material illegally.

The committee had also highlighted that South West Mining Ltd had carried out excavations on behalf of S S Muchandi, as the latter had no excavation equipment.

"It is a fact that BJP leader B S Yeddyurappa has links with South West Mining Ltd. Ironically, the illegal mining activities carried out by the Congress government is worse than the previous BJP regime. These people are more intelligent - they know how to escape, unlike Yeddyurappa who was caught red-handed with a cheque," he said.

Kumaraswamy also hinted that Siddaramaiah was in the know of the illegalities. "The Mines and Geology department continues to be under Siddaramaiah. Minister Vinay Kulkarni holds the portfolio only in name. This kind of rampant illegalities cannot be carried out without the blessings of the higher ups."

The JD(S) leader has demanded a fair probe into the matter.

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