BENGALURU: The state government, which had constituted a Special Investigating Team (SIT) under the Lokayukta, is reportedly mulling to give more teeth to it to confiscate the wealth accrued by the accused from illegal iron ore exports from the state.
According to highly placed official sources, the move gained ground after reports of possible release of the main accused, G Janardhana Reddy, who has got bail in all cases barring one.
The Lokayukta, which had investigated the illegal mining and export of iron ore between 2006 and 2010, in its report had estimated that over 2.98 crore tonnes of illicit iron ore were exported during the period.
In its final report submitted to the previous BJP government, the Lokayukta had strongly recommended recovering revenue losses caused by the illegal miners, estimated to be over Rs.16,000 crore, by attaching the properties of the accused. Learning that it was not equipped with any legislation to attach the properties, similar to that of the Central agency, the Enforcement Directorate (ED), the state government is considering bringing an ordinance to empower itself to confiscate the wealth. Rural Development Minister H K Patil, who heads a Cabinet sub-committee on the implementation of the Lokayukta report on illegal mining, said, “We have no specific laws to attach the properties of those who have amassed huge property by illegal mining activities.” However, pointing out that co-operative institutions are vested with such powers to confiscate the properties of loan defaulters, while cases are pending in competent courts, he said, “We may also explore ways to equip us with such powers by bringing a new legislation or amending the existing ones.”
“We will not only bring the culprits to book but also recover the losses,” he added. The Cabinet Committee, comprising Law Minister T B Jayachandra, Home Minister K J George, PWD Minister H C Mahadevappa and IT/BT Minister S R Patil, had discussed this issue in detail, he said.
“A final decision would be taken soon,” he added.