Illegal mining: 8 politicos, 500 officials and Rs.18 bn loss

July 21st, 2011 - 7:28 pm ICT by IANS  

Sonia Gandhi Bangalore, July 21 (IANS) Illegal mining has dominated public discourse for nearly five years. Now Karnataka Lokayukta N. Santosh Hegde is ready with a 5,000-page report exposing the politician-officials-businessmen nexus. He will formally submit the report Friday but substantive contents were leaked to the media late Wednesday.

The gist: Politicians named: Chief Minister B.S. Yeddyurappa, his predecessor H.D. Kumaraswamy of JD-S, four BJP ministers including two Reddy brothers, a Congress Rajya Sabha member and Yeddyurappa’s two sons, one of whom is a BJP Lok Sabha member, and son-in-law.

Officials named: about 500.

Loss to the state over 14 months: Rs.1,827 crore.

Brief sketches of the dramatis personae:

B.S. Yeddyturappa: BJP’s first chief minister in south India. Not directly involved but turned a blind eye to illegal mining. Did not sack the powerful Reddy brothers in spite of persistent charges against them.

His sons B.Y. Raghavendra, a BJP Lok Sabha member, and B.Y. Raghavendra run Prerana Educational and Social Trust in Shimoga, Yeddyurappa’s political base. Raghavendra is MP from Shimoga, 270 km from Bangalore. His trust got donation of Rs.10 crore from a firm involved in illegal mining. The two and son-in-law R. Sohan Kumar bought an acre of land near Bangalore for Rs.2 crore and sold it to a mining firm for Rs. 20 crore.

Reddy brothers: Hail from neighbouring Andhra Pradesh where their father was a police constable. Have made iron ore rich Bellary, about 300 km from Bangalore, their political base.

G. Janardhana, the tourism minister who is the most vocal of the three brothers, owns Obulapuram Mining Co. Elder brother G. Karunakara, the revenue minister. Younger brother G. Somashekaraka, an assembly member.

A struggling businessmen in 1999, Janarhana moved close to BJP leader Sushma Swaraj as she took on Congress president Sonia Gandhi in the Lok Sabha election. Entered iorn ore mining in 2005, started exporting and quickly became a billionaire. He owns choppers and latest limos. He is reportedly into illegal mining in Karnataka without owning any mines in the state. He has been accused of forcing other miners to route exports through them; gets officers of choice posted in Bellary.

Their close associate is Health Minister B. Sriramlu.

The fourth minister is V. Somanna, who handles civil supplies portfolio.
Was in Congress. Switched to BJP in April 2009.

H.D. Kumaraswamy. Son of former prime minister H.D. Deve Gowda. Joined hands with Yeddyurappa in 2006 to bring down the Congress-JDS coalition and became chief minister for 20 months. Said to have granted license two firms flouting rules.

Anil Lad: Congress Rajya Sabha member. Runs VSL group. Family in mining business for over five decades. Brother is a Congress assembly member. Allegedly carried out illegal mining in Bellary.

The man who exposed all this is Nitte Santosh Hegde. A university hockey player, he started practicing law in 1966, was solicitor general in 1998, a Supreme Court judge in 1999, retired in 2005, and became the Karnataka Lokayukta Aug 3, 2006. His five-year term ends Aug 2, 2011.

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