Minister illegally transporting sand to Kerala, alleges HDK

The State government on Thursday faced embarrassment in the Legislative Assembly as PWD Minister H C Mahadevappa was accused of being the “spearhead” of the illegal riverbed sand transportation to Kerala.

Flashing trip sheets of sand lorries from the Kerala checkposts bordering Mysuru, JD (S) floor leader H D Kumaraswamy accused Mahadevappa of leading illegal transportation of riverbed sand from T Narasipura, the minister’s constituency, to Kerala.

Speaking on illegal sand mining menace in Mysuru and across the State, Kumaraswamy said the trip sheets suggest that one truck load of sand was being sold at Rs 1.30 lakh to the neighbouring State.

“I have no fear in naming the PWD minister as the spearhead in cases involving riverbed sand being transported from his constituency, T Narasipura to Kerala. I am not speaking without any evidence. I have documents to prove it,” he said, amid a din with Congress MLAs crying foul. He accused the Karnataka checkposts of being party to the illegal activity by not keeping records of these sand trucks exiting the State.

Kumaraswamy said that the lorries were paying taxes in Kerala of up to Rs 3,500 to 4,000 per truck. “These trucks were exiting the State via Gundlupet into Sultan Bathery. How is it that their vehicle numbers are not recorded in Karnataka, but available with the Kerala checkposts?” he asked.

Lending support to Kumaraswamy, BJP MLAs took an indirect dig at the PWD minister by suggesting that government officials themselves were involved in the illegal transportation of sand. The BJP’s Chikkamagaluru MLA C T Ravi raised questions on the “support” given to officials in stealing truckloads of sand from the sand depot in Belagavi last year.

He said the deputy commissioner of Belagavi on February 3 had sent a report to the PWD secretary to conduct proper investigation into the missing truckloads of sand.

“As much as 600 truckloads of sand was seized during a raid in 2013. However, these truckloads of sand were missing from the sand depot. How is it that without support from higher-ups the lower rung officials had the courage to steal the sand and roam free? Did they have backing from the political masters?” he demanded. 

Mahadevappa defended himself by stating that in the last 30 years of his political career, he was never associated with any sand mining mafia or other illegal activities. 

“If it is proven that I have been involved in such activities, then I shall not remain in public life,” he said. He also said the department was conducting an inquiry into the missing sand trucks and have already issued notices to the local officials.
 Kumaraswamy demanded that the government form a House committee to investigate the transportation of sand illegally across the State borders.

Home Minister K J George said that as an immediate measure, he would appoint a special officer to probe the lapse of sand trucks being allowed to exit the State to Kerala.

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