Interpol help must to crack illegal mining scam

The scam involves unauthorised mining of iron ore from Bellary and its illegal export to various countries through state and inter-state ports. All aspects of the scam within the state may be investigated efficiently by the Lokayukta and officers. But to probe the international ramifications of the scam, a central investigation agency with close ties with Interpol is better suited.

The Lokayukta is already investigating the iron ore export irregularities at Belekeri port near Karwar following a complaint made by local lawyer K R Desai in January 2010.

Consequently, an inquiry by chief conservator of forest Dr U V Singh, who was appointed special investigation officer, brought to light evidence supporting the illegal mining scam. Chief minister B S Yeddyurappa endorsed the finding in the legislature stating that 3.05 crore tonnes iron ore had been illegally exported since 2003.

Lokayukta officers have so far worked only with the state jurisdiction. They have little or no experience investigating cases at the international level. Hence, CBI is better suited, argued a top police officer.

The ongoing Lokayukta probe is unsufficient. An altogether new approach and new officers to deal with the criminal nature of the scam is needed. Hence, the need to refer to CBI, said the officer.

Lokayukta clarifies

Lokayukta N Santosh Hegde clarified that he had asked the state government to entrust the investigation to his organisation as being stated.

“I only said the Lokayukta’s office is capable of investigating the scam,” said the ombudsman and added that they would continue to probe the Belekeri port iron ore heist.

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