Bangalore, Sep 3 (Calcutta Tube) Karnataka Chief Minister B.S. Yeddyurappa said Friday many central and state ministers were involved in promoting illegal iron ore mining in the state in the last 10 years and he would expose them.
‘If a thorough probe is held into the illegal mining in the state in the last 10 years, it will expose several central and state ministers. This will be done,’ said Yeddyurappa.
‘I am not the one to keep quiet when baseless allegations are hurled against me. I am not Yeddyurappa if I do not expose them,’ the chief minister asserted.
He was reacting to Congress charges that he had been telling lies by claiming he had not given or renewed mining license during his two-year rule.
Yeddyurappa said he had given only two permits in the last two years and renewed several ‘because of the recommendations from the central government.’
‘I have no other option when the central government recommends,’ Yeddyurappa added.
The chief minister had been asserting all these days that he had not given or renewed even a single license since he came to power in May, 2008.
The Congress Wednesday claimed that Yeddyurappa had sanctioned 15 mining leases and recommended to the central government to give permission to nine companies to mine in about 1,000 acres.
‘We have documents to show that Yeddyurappa permitted mining leases to 15 firms and recommended to the central government to give permission to mine to nine companies in about 1,000 acres,’ V.S. Ugrappa, former leader of the Congress party in the legislative council, had told reporters here.
Yeddyurappa denied he had acted illegally in sanctioning the two permits.
The first BJP Chief Minister in Karnataka and south India has been under tremendous pressure to act against illegal mining as two of his cabinet ministers are mine owners.
Tourism Minister G. Janardhana Reddy and his elder brother Revenue Minister G. Karunakara Reddy, who were small businessmen, have become billionaires in just over eight years after entering mining sector in 2002.
They are accused of large-scale illegal mining both in Karnataka and neighbouring Andhra Pradesh. The Reddy brothers deny the charges.
Yeddyurappa said additional staff will be provided to the Lok Ayukta (Ombudsman) N. Santosh Hegde, who has been entrusted with the probe into illegal mining since 2002.
‘One more Upa Lok Ayukta (deputy ombudsman) will also appointed in consultation with the Lok Ayukta,’ the Chief Minister said. There is already one Upa Lok Ayukta.
Yeddyurappa said a probe by the Crime Investigation Department (CID) of state police has found that 45 firms were involved in illegal export from Belekeri port in Uttara Kannada district, about 500 km from here.
Cases have been registered against 58 persons in this connection, he said.
The illegal export of iron ore from Belekeri came to light in June when it was found that over 400,000 tonnes of ore illegally stored there and seized by Lok Ayukta were missing.
While the Lok Ayukta fears that up to 800,000 tonnes of ore had been illegally exported from Belekeri, the CID says it has so far found that 465,000 tonnes had been sent abroad.