For 16 months, D K Suresh, the Congress MP accused of illegal granite quarrying, has escaped a CID inquiry with help from a sleepy government department.
The Forest Department has not acted on an inquiry report recommending a CID investigation into illegal quarrying in Kanakapura taluk, a 30-minute drive from south Bangalore.
Many illegal granite quarrying units could face serious action if the recommendation is implemented.
Suresh is the brother of Energy Minister D K Shivakumar, who positions himself as a Vokkaliga leader and regards Congress veteran S M Krishna as his mentor. For months, Chief Minister Siddaramaiah had resisted Shivakumar’s induction into the Cabinet, but eventually gave in to pressure from party bosses in Delhi.
The first probe into illegal quarrying in Kanakapura was launched in 2006 by a committee headed by senior Indian Forest Service officer Dr U V Singh. Since then, two CID inquiry recommendations were forwarded by Takhat Singh Ranawat, then Deputy Conservator of Forests (Ramanagaram), to the Department of Forests, Ecology and Environment. The investigation so far has focused only on Forest Act offences in these quarries, according to documents available with Express.
Principal Secretary of Forests, Ecology and Environment, N Sivasailam, was vague about when his department would act on the recommendation.
“The FIRs on forest offences have been registered and investigation is going on. As for the CID inquiry, we are looking into it and an appropriate decision will be taken,” he said..
When Express contacted Suresh, he said the recommendation for a CID inquiry was politically motivated. “We have not done any quarrying without leases. The offences under the Forest Act are already chargesheeted and some are under investigation,” he said.
The U V Singh committee found 99 cases of illegal quarrying inside notified forest areas, and 90 cases of illegal quarrying within 100 metres of the reserve forest boundary.
As a consequence of his report, 143 cases were booked in 2006-07. These cases relate only to violation of the Karnataka Forest Act, and not to other alleged offences, such as forgery and tax evasion.
In 2012, Ranawat wrote to the principal secretary of the Department of Forests, Ecology and Environment, recommending a joint investigation involving the Forest, Mines and Geology and Revenue Departments. The letter stated, “These cases not only pertain to violations of the Forest Act but also involve offences for violation of the Mines and Mineral (Regulation and Development) Act, ... forgery, and also evasion of taxes and duty.” It said an agency having the power to investigate and prosecute the offenders should step in.
This letter, dated September 1, 2012, got a response from the Forest Department only after 13 months. The October 2013 reply sought details about FIRs already filed.
This letter stated the information was essential before the probe could be handed over to the CID. The DCF responded in October 2013 that a CID probe could be ordered without an FIR being filed in the jurisdictional police station.
It referred to cases involving mining in Bellary district and said the CID could step in even in the absence of FIRs at the local level.