CMO involved in Rs 5.45,000 crore illegal mining scam: JD(S) Karnataka president H D Kumaraswamy
Former Chief Minister and JD(S) state president H D Kumaraswamy on Saturday accused senior officials in the Chief Minister’s Office (CMO) of being directly involved in illegal mining of iron ore worth
BENGALURU: Former Chief Minister and JD(S) state president H D Kumaraswamy on Saturday accused senior officials in the Chief Minister’s Office (CMO) of being directly involved in illegal mining of iron ore worth over Rs 5,450 crore. He added that iron ore was illegally mined and transported from state-owned Mysore Minerals Ltd (MML) mines at Sandur in Ballari district after Chief Minister Siddaramaiah took over as CM.
“Such large-scale irregularities cannot happen without the involvement of senior officers in Siddaramaiah’s CMO and also political leaders. If Siddaramaiah is really an honest CM, as he always claims to be, let him order a probe,’’ the JD (S) leader told mediapersons. “This government is worse than the BJP government, and we are determined to take the issue to its logical end.’’
According to Kumaraswamy, contracts were given to different companies for excavation, drilling, crushing and screening of ore from Thimmappangudi and Subbarayanahalli Iron Ore Mines in Sandur taluk, from November 27, 2014, to March 31, 2017.
“As per the agreement, the companies can extract 30 lakh metric tonnes of iron ore a year, but the quantity of ore mined and transported was much more than what they reported. One company had started mining even before the agreement date,’’ he said. “In July 2015, as per the Mines Production Register, 1,05,820 metric tonnes of ore was mined, but they reported it as 52,920 metric tonnes. This is just one example and they did the same almost every month,’’ he said.
Kumaraswamy said MML officials have to sign the Mines Production Register, but they had not done so from December 22, 2015, to March 31, 2016, and they also tampered with the reports. Many such irregularities have been highlighted in the MML’s internal audit report and honest officials who tried to take action have been shunted out, he claimed.
After the Siddaramaiah government came to power, officials of the Mines and Geology Department have been transferred frequently. The secretary and directors have been changed five times in four-half-years. “One honest officer was transferred within a month and another was allowed to work for just three months,’’ he added.
CMO CALLS THE SHOTS
Referring to Mines and Geology Minister Vinay Kulkarni’s active involvement in the campaign for a separate religion status for the Lingayat community, Kumaraswamy said the minister has no control as Siddaramaiah and senior officials in the CMO are directly handling all affairs of the department. “The CM has left Kulkarni for dharma prachara (propagating religion),’’ he added.