Yeddyurappa meets Chidambaram over illegal mining row

New Delhi, July 17 (Calcutta Tube) Karnataka Chief Minister B.S. Yeddyurappa met union Home Minister P. Chidambaram here Saturday amid an undying crisis over illegal mining in the state and the opposition’s demand for a Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) probe into it.

Yeddyurappa said he briefed the home minister on the issue that has triggered a political crisis in Karnataka following a four-day stand off in the state legislature between the government and the opposition.

‘I briefed the home minister about the issue. A lokayukta (ombudsman) has been appointed and he will probe the illegal mining scam,’ he said, signalling that a CBI probe into the massive illegal iron ore mining in the state was not acceptable to the government.

The opposition Congress and Janata Dal-Secular (JD-S) are alleging that the Reddy brothers – Tourism Minister G. Janardhana, his elder brother and Revenue Minister G. Karunakara, and younger brother and legislator G. Somashekara – are involved in large-scale illegal mining in Bellary as well as neighbouring Andhra Pradesh.

Yeddyurappa said, ‘If any of my cabinet ministers is proved guilty, I’ll remove them within 24 hours.’

The chief minister had earlier also rejected the opposition’s demand for a CBI investigation into the scam.

On Friday, Yeddyurappa met Governor H.R. Bhardwaj and conveyed the government’s stand against a CBI inquiry into the scam.

Bhardwaj, a former law minister, earlier this week briefed President Pratibha Patil in New Delhi about the illegal mining issue and the steps he has taken to handle it.

He later formally wrote to the chief minister to take action against those indulging in illegal mining and referred a Congress legislator’s petition seeking disqualification of the Reddy brothers to the Election Commission.

Sticking to his government’s stand of not referring the illegal mining issue to the CBI, Yeddyurappa said he had told the governor that ‘it is not proper now to entrust the matter to CBI probe. If we do it now, it would further delay the investigation process’.

He is is likely to meet Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and senior Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) leaders later in the day.

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