YSR-Reddys bonhomie on CBI radar

OMC began mining operations in 2005, even before it got the environmental clearance

digging for truth: The eight-member CBI team at a mining area in Bellary. DH Photo

The CBI commenced its investigation in the border area between Karnataka and AP, after the AP government ordered a probe. The eight-member team is led by V V Lakshminarayana, the Andhra Pradesh DIG of the CBI.

Sources said the agency was primarily looking into the leases given by the AP government, the extent of each lease and the alleged violations.

A preliminary inquiry conducted last November by the empowered committee of the Supreme Court had revealed that OMC had resorted to illegal mining in forest and non-leased areas in AP and exported 1.97 crore tonnes of iron ore worth Rs 5,308 crore.

The committee had noted that this was made possible with the clandestine support of the YSR government. Although the lease of OMC-1, OMC-2, OMC-3 and Ananthpur Mining Corporation, also owned by the Reddy brothers, had expired in 2004, the YSR government extended it till 2017.

The CAG had indicted the then Industry Secretary Srilakshmi and Rajagopal, Director of the Mines Department, for extending OMC’s leases in spite of complaints of illegal mining.
Both officials were transferred  by the Rosaiah government later. CBI sources said although the lease extension was given in 2004 , the environmental clearance came only in 2007. However, the OMC group started mining operations in 2005 itself. “In connivance with the AP government, the Reddy brothers had resorted to exploitation of mineral resources without even the necessary environment clearance,” sources said.

In OMC-1, though the lease area was just 25.98 hectares, the company conducted mining even in “no man’s land” and other forest areas and thereby eroded the boundary areas between Karnataka and AP.

They had even demolished the Sunkalamma temple, outside their lease area. When questioned by the empowered committee, OMC argued that there was no such temple.

In all, though the OMC had official lease to conduct mining only in 132.98 hectares in the border area, investigations show that the Reddy brothers had illegally extended the mining to nearly 326.5 hectares, including 150  hectares of forest land and 25 acres of “no man’s land”. Also, they conducted mining in areas leased out to other mining operators. The OMC had also laid illegal roads in the leased area. From the forest area itself, it had illegally mined nearly 11 lakh tonnes of iron ore.

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