Telugu Desam president N. Chandrababu Naidu on Friday said he would not be cowed down by the threats held out by Obulapuram Mining Company owner and Karnataka Minister, Gali Janardhana Reddy and continue to fight against "mining mafia".
Reacting to caustic remarks made by Mr. Reddy immediately after the opposition parties meeting he had convened to discuss the issue, Mr. Naidu said he had nothing personal against anybody. The party’s fight was against a company that was resorting to illegal mining, violating all laws of the land and exporting thousands of crores worth of mineral wealth which belongs to the people, he alleged.
No responsible party could remain a silent spectator to this "looting of public wealth by mafia and the risk it posed to democracy". "We are fighting on behalf of people and we are not worried by such threats", he added.
At the meeting, four political parties —Telugu Desam, CPI (M), CPI and Lok Satta — resolved to launch a joint agitation against the illegal mining by OMC beginning with demonstrations before the District Collectorates on November 16. It was also decided to present memorandam to the President, the Prime Minister, the Governor and the Chief Minister on the need to check increasing influence of the ‘mining mafia’ on the political system. The BJP, the TRS and the PRP did not attend.
Mr. Naidu alleged that within four years of getting the leases, the OMC had earned a whopping Rs. 10,000 crores by excavating iron ore and exporting it irrespective of the area for which the leases were issued. Like the previous Government, the Chief Minister, K. Rosaiah too was looking the other way. The three-member committee of the Forest department was an eye wash.
The CPI State Secretary, K. Narayana said captive iron ore was gifted to Mr. Janardhana Reddy while denying the same to the public sector, Visakhapatnam Steel Plant. The ‘mining mafia’ could be fought only through a political battle. The CPI (M) leader, K. V. Raghavulu, said the OMC actions were criminal in nature from mining to transferring of profits to benami consulting companies.
Lok Satta Party president, Jayaprakash Narayan demanded CBI inquiry, fixing of boundaries by Survey of India, change in mining laws to facilitate competitive bidding and making anti-corruption laws tougher. D. V. Krishna of CPI (ML) New Democracy and Murlidhar of All India Forward Bloc spoke.
Senior TDP MLA, Nagam Janardhan Reddy said he had all the documents to prove the charges against the OMC promoter and challenged the latter to join him in an open debate.