Lokayukta censures mines & geology, forest depts

S'mogga blasts: Lokayukta censures mines & geology, forest depts

Five people were killed in an explosion of gelatin sticks near an illegal mining site recently in Shivamogga

The Lokayukta has blasted officials of the Mines and Geology and Forest departments for the failure to stop illegal mining in Shivamogga, despite registering cases, including four cases at Hunasodu village. 

Five people were killed in an explosion of gelatin sticks near an illegal mining site recently.

On January 25, Lokayukta Justice P Vishwanatha Shetty issued a fresh order to the deputy commissioner (DC) of Shivamogga to investigate illegal quarries, mining and crushers across the district and submit a report in six weeks, detailing the officers who failed to monitor and prevent them.

The Lokayukta, who had initiated a suo motu case in 2017 on the basis of a report by Lokayukta Superintendent of Police, Chitradurga, has advanced the matter which was listed for hearing in March.

Over the last two years, the Shivamogga DC and officials from the Mines and Geology department had submitted an action-taken report to the Lokayukta, including the cases registered by them against illegal stone quarrying and mining activities.

In his report dated October 29, 2020, the Shivamogga DC said special flying squads have been set up and wireless CCTV cameras were being installed to curb mining activities.

“We are taking all steps in coordination with departments concerned to control illegal quarries and transport of stone,” it said.

The senior geologist of the Mines and Geology department has stated that surprise raids were conducted to curb mining and penalty of Rs 2.59 crore collected between financial years 2014-15 and till the end of September in 2020-21.

However, the Lokayukta said the department failed to stop the illegal activities despite registering cases.

“It is relevant to point out that four criminal cases have been filed against the persons who were carrying out illegal mining activities at Hunasodu village, Shivamogga taluk, where the incident took place. If the mining activities had been stopped after the registration of criminal cases referred to in the report of the senior geologist, possibly, the incident could have been avoided,” the order noted. 

Pointing out that the failure of officers to prevent illegal mining in the village requires investigation, the Lokakyuta said it can be considered at a later stage as the government has directed for a separate probe into the incident.

‘Probe all activities’

However, the Lokayukta directed the Shivamogga DC to investigate all the illegal quarrying, mining as well as crushers in the district and submit a report.