The CBI investigation in the illegal mining cases has uncovered the involvement of many government officials, including those from the all-India services.
After the arrest of retired IAS officer M Vishwanathan on Wednesday, the agency is seeking legal opinion to book another IAS officer, currently on central deputation.
A source told Express: “As per the FIR on irregularities by the Deccan Mining Syndicate, one more IAS officer is also an accused. The officer, on central deputation, and is holding a quasi-judicial post. We are taking legal opinion on the future course of action”.
Two weeks ago, the CBI had arrested senior Indian Forest Service (IFS) officer Manoj Kumar Shukla from Lucknow and produced him before the special court in Bangalore, in connection with the Belekeri port case. Before this, the CBI had arrested another IFS, S Mutthaiah, in the Associated Mining Company case.
While Shukla is accused of withdrawing staff from a crucial forest check-post at Halkundi on the border of Andhra Pradesh to facilitate former minister G Janardhana Reddy’s transport of illegal ore, Vishwanathan allegedly conspired with the Deccan Mining Syndicate to renew its licence with encroached lease area of NMDC.
Other government officials who have already been arrested by the CBI include RFO Mahesh Patil, retired Deputy Director of Mines and Geology Department, S P Raju, who is currently in judicial custody, and the then police inspector of Sandur, Ramakanth Hullura. All these accused allegedly helped Bellary miners to illegally extract and transport iron ore.
The number of government officials accused in the mining cases is most likely to rise. Last week, CBI had submitted a requisition to the Supreme Court seeking directions to register 22 more FIRs against companies and officials involved in Belekeri port cases. A source said the CBI has finalised preliminary investigation of instances of illegal extraction and export of less than 5 lakh metric tonnes of iron ore through Belekeri port.