The Supreme Court-appointed Central Empowered Committee (CEC) has recommended a probe by an “independent investigating agency” such as the Central Bureau of Investigation into the illegal export of iron ore from the Belekeri port in Uttara Kannada.

In the case related to the export of iron ore from the Krishnapatnam port and the Chennai port after the government of Karnataka banned the export of iron ore, the CEC has favoured setting up of an “interdepartmental team of officers on full-time basis” for undertaking detailed investigation and follow-up action particularly regarding the details of the illegal iron ore exported, if any, and the lessees, stockyards, suppliers, transporters, exporters and officials involved in such illegalities.

The CEC has refused to accept the stand of the Karnataka government on the “sudden transfer” of senior police officers on deputation to the Lokayukta. It has not recommended any specific action in view of the assurance from the government on reinstating Jeevan Kumar Gaonkar as head of the Lokayukta police “if he so desires” after the appointment of a new Lokayukta.

(Mr. Gaonkar, who was Additional Director-General of Police, Lokayukta, was transferred in November last.)

The CEC made its recommendations on Friday after examining the issues raised in the interlocutory application filed by Samaj Parivartana Samudaya, an NGO fighting against illegal mining in Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh, and hearing the submissions made by the government.

‘Serious shortcomings'

The CEC, which examined the issue of alleged illegal export of iron ore from the Belekeri port and associated issues, observed that “there are very serious shortcomings both with regard to the investigation carried out till date and the grounds on which the charge sheets have so far been filed”.

“This is one of the rarest of the rare cases where a large quantity of iron ore with a normative value of more than Rs. 250 crore was seized and a majority of the seized ore was found to have been illegally exported outside the country,” the report said.

No investigation has been conducted or action taken in respect of those involved in the transportation of illegal ore, and a large number of government officials alleged to have received bribes from Adani Enterprises, the stevedoring company. A number of crucial and sensitive aspects in the case have either been overlooked or no investigation has been undertaken till date. The investigations have prima facie been confined to ascertaining the quantity of iron ore illegally exported, the report said. The CEC has recommended recovery of the value of the illegally mined ore received and exported from the Belekeri port based on the value assessed by the Customs Department for imposing customs duty in a time-bound manner.