Bengaluru, Jan 13, 2018 : JD(S) state president H D Kumaraswamy on Saturday charged that the Siddaramaiah-led Congress government had indulged in rampant illegal mining activities with more than Rs 5,000 crore worth iron ore being illegally lifted and transported by the state owned Mysore Minerals Ltd (MML) between 2014 and 2017.
Addressing the media in Bengaluru, Kumaraswamy said that an internal inquiry by senior officers of the department of Mines and Geology had revealed that 60,56,440 MT of ore had been illegally lifted and sold by MML.
He said, MML had entered into a three-year agreement with Subbarayanahalli Iron Ore Mines and Thimmappanagudi Iron Ore Mines, to mine ore in Sandur taluk in Ballari district from November 27, 2014 to March 31, 2017.
Contracts had also been awarded to S S Muchandi (excavation); Amit Earth Movers (drilling); Vishal Enterprises (crushing/screening); and South West Mining Ltd Kumaraswamy alleged.
The former CM said that as per the committee report dated April 27, 2017, Rs 2,062 crore worth ore was illegally lifted and transported within the state between 2014 and 2015 itself.
MML officials had swindled money by tampering with the records of the production register book.
Officials had shown records of less quantity of ore being mined, where the quantum of ore excavated was much higher, he said.
As many as eight IAS officers (serving as Director, Mines and Geology) who tried to expose the scam had been transferred by the government in quick succession.
"IAS officer Munish Moudgil was transferred barely one month after he took charge. The office of the chief minister is directly involved in this illegality," he said.
He also pointed out that the IAS officer Tushar Girinath was heading the department at the height of the scam. Girinath is Siddaramaiah’s principal secretary.
"The government was forced to constitute the inquiry committee after another IAS officer P Hemalatha wanted to refer the matter to the Lokayukta," said Kumaraswamy.
He also said that though the contractors had single permits, they had made multiple trips and transported the raw material illegally.
The committee had also highlighted that South West Mining Ltd had carried out excavations on behalf of S S Muchandi, as the latter had no excavation equipment.
"It is a fact that BJP leader B S Yeddyurappa has links with South West Mining Ltd. Ironically, the illegal mining activities carried out by the Congress government is worse than previous BJP regime. These people are more intelligent - they know how to escape, unlike Yeddyurappa who was caught red handed with a cheque," he said.
Kumaraswamy also hinted that Siddaramaiah was in the know of the illegalities. "The Mines department continues to be under Siddaramaiah. Minister Vinay Kulkarni holds the portfolio in name alone. This kind of rampant illegalities cannot be carried out without the blessings of the higher ups," he added.
Kumaraswamy demanded a fair probe into the matter.