Bangalore, July 19 : Facing flak from opposition Congress on the mining issue, the Karnataka government on Monday ordered a probe by Lokayukta into illegal export of minerals, including iron ore, from 2000 till date.
A notification issued by the State Industries and Commerce Department said the inquiry into the illegal mining and whether minerals were exported in excess quantities over the permits issued will cover the period from January 1, 2000 to July 19, 2010.
Sources in Chief Minister’s Secretariat said the letter seeking the probe was delivered to the Lokayukta office today.
In a tactical move, Chief Minister B S Yeddyurappa, who has been under opposition fire for "protecting" the Reddy brothers, decided to enlarge the scope of the probe already ordered soon after a belligerent Congress announced "Bellary Chalo" padayatra programme from July 25.
The Congress besides insisting on a CBI investigation has been demanding that the three ministers of Bellary -- G Janardhana Reddy, G Karunakara Reddy and B Sreeramulu, facing charges of illegal mining, be dropped from the Ministry.
The order seeking inquiry into illegal exports also comes a day after Yeddyurappa gave a clean chit to his Bellary Ministerial colleagues denying their involvement in the mining scam and declaring that they are "101 per cent honest".
The remark, however, was dubbed as "too premature" by none other than Lokayukta Santosh Hegde, the Ombudsman, who would be probing the charges.
"It is too premature to give a clean chit to Reddy brothers as the Lokayukta probe on the matter is still on", Hegde said.