Karnataka Chief Minister B.S. Yeddyurappa on Tuesday said 20 squads are on the job to check illegal mining of iron ore and exports and rejected Opposition criticism that there is no let-up in the unlawful activity.
“13 joint squads have been activated. They are keeping a 24-hour vigil and discharging their duties,” he told reporters here after a review meeting on the issue.
These squads - five in Karwar, two in Hospet and one each in Mangalore, Chitradurga, Bijapur, Bellary, Gadag and Hassan - comprise officials from the departments of Forest, Police, Transport, Commercial Taxes, Public Works and Revenue.
In addition, Mr. Yeddyurappa said seven special squads drawn from personnel of the Mines and Forest Departments have been pressed into service to check illegal mining and exports.
Six CCTVs have been installed in Karnataka-Andhra Pradesh border checkpost, which has helped control the illegal ore transportation, he said, adding that licence to 58 private yards storing iron ore has been cancelled.
Officials said more than one lakh tons of iron ore - illegally stored or transported - has been seized in the State in the past one month.
The Karnataka government had recently announced a ban on iron ore exports from 10 minor ports, but the Opposition Congress and the Lok Ayukta have said that nothing has changed on the ground as illegal mining is still on.
Leader of the Opposition Siddaramaiah said iron ore mined in Karnataka is being transported out of the State and shipped from ports in Andhra Pradesh and Tamil Nadu.