KARWAR: Eight years after the Belekeri iron ore scam came to light, thousands of tons of iron ore are still lying abandoned at both the Belekeri and Karwar ports. This has become a major headache for the port authorities as export and import activity has come to a standstill, causing huge losses. Though the special CBI court had allowed auction of the seized ore, there have been no takers.
The Belekeri scam, in which lakhs of tons of iron ore were illegally exported, came to light in 2010-11 following which huge quantities of ore were seized. But shockingly, in the following years, about 50,000 tons of ore was stolen from the port. Over the last eight years, 56 heaps of seized ore, weighing over a couple of lakh tons, has been dumped in more than 100 acres in Belekeri port and the main gate has been locked.
While the port itself has not been cordoned off and there is no bar on its activities, the port authorities have been forced to shut it down as the main access gate itself has been closed. According to sources, the port generated annual revenue of about Rs 15 crore, excluding iron ore export, and more than Rs 125 crore in indirect tax collection like GST, Customs and others.
Likewise, at the Karwar port, heaps of seized iron ore has been dumped in about eight acres. This has affected port activity due to space crunch. Trading of food items like maize, sugar and food grains through the port has stopped due to ore dust spreading all around. The port has been suffering losses of about Rs 5 crore annually while indirect revenue of about Rs 150 crore to the government has been choked.
The port authorities had earlier served a notice to the forest department, the custodian of the seized ore, to clear the mounds. Following this, the department approached the CBI special court seeking its nod to sell the ore. The court allowed auction of the seized ore through e-tender, but no one has come forward to buy it so far, an offficer said. Also, there has been no decision by the government on shifting the ore from the existing place, he added.
Issue At A Glance
■ Thousands of tons of seized iron ore stored at Belekeri and Karwar ports
■ Belekeri port closed for the last 8 years due to lack of space for movement of goods
■ Port activities in Karwar also affected due to iron ore that stored