Illegal iron ore mining, export on despite ban: Congress

August 30th, 2010 - 11:23 pm ICT by IANS  

Bharatiya Janata Party Bangalore, Aug 30 (IANS) The Congress Monday asserted that illegal mining and export of iron ore is continuing in Karnataka despite the ban announced by Chief Minister B.S. Yeddyurappa a month back.
“Hundreds of truck loads of iron ore and other minerals are being shipped from ports in the state and neighbouring Andhra Pradesh,” Leader of Opposition and senior party leader Siddaramaiah told reporters here.

His assertion comes a day ahead of Yeddyurappa’s meeting with senior officials to decide on steps to implement his decision to ban iron ore export from ten ports in the state and also on transporting iron ore out of Karnataka for export from other ports.

The chief minister announced the ban July 29 saying this was the only way to stop illegal mining and export of iron ore.

The ban came midway through the Congress march to the iron ore rich district of Bellary from Bangalore demanding a Central Bureau of Investigation probe into alleged illegal mining and export of iron ore by Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) ministers and mining barons, the Reddy brothers.

Yeddyurappa called the meeting after the Lok Ayukta (ombudsman) N. Santosh Hegde told reporters last week that illegal mining was on and there was no let up in exports also.

Siddaramaiah said the only way to stop illegal mining and export from Bellary was to transfer officials who have to implement the ban.

“If the government is serious about ending illegal mining and export, it should transfer officials in the district (Bellary) who have colluded” with Reddy brothers, he said.

The brothers are Tourism Minister G. Janardhana Reddy, his elder brother Revenue Minister G. Karunakara Reddy and the younger G. Somashekara Reddy, a BJP legislator. Bellary, about 320 km from Bangalore, is the brothers’ political base.

Siddaramiah noted that these officials had been transferred by Yeddyurappa last year but were posted back following the brothers’ revolt against him in October-November 2009.

The Congress leader claimed the ban has created problems for mine owners and exporters who were not flouting norms. “The ban has meant gala time for Reddy brothers as they have licences in Andhra Pradesh, take iron ore from Karnataka and export it again from Andhra Pradesh”.

The brothers’s own Obulapuram Mining Company and most of their mines are in Andhra Pradesh, which borders Bellary.

Though the brothers claim that they are not mining even in one inch of land in Karnataka, Congress and Janata Dal-Secular and other mine owners in Bellary allege that they are into largescale illegal mining in Karnataka. The brothers’ are also accused of erasing border marks between the two states to cover up their illegal mining activity.

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