The State Cabinet on Wednesday decided to bring alleged illegal iron ore export from two more ports — Margao in Goa and Belikeri in Karnataka — under the ambit of the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) probe. This is in addition to the seven ports under investigation.

Also, it was decided to entrust investigation of illegal extraction of iron ore for domestic consumption, illegalities allegedly committed by different companies and individuals and the alleged irregularities by officials of Mysore Minerals Ltd., (MML), to the Lokayukta police.

Earlier, the government had announced that this investigation would be handed over either to a special investigation team or the Criminal Investigation Department (CID) of the State police.

Briefing presspersons after the Cabinet meeting here, Law and Parliamentary Affairs Minister T.B. Jayachandra said that the CBI inquiry into illegal iron export was ordered with respect to ports of Chennai, Krishnapatnam, Ennore, Kakinada, Visakhapatnam, Karwar and Mangalore. On the basis of several inputs that illegal exports had taken place from other two ports too, including Belikeri which the CBI is looking into following a Supreme Court direction, the government decided to extend the probe to cover two more ports.

On handing over the case of illegal ore extraction to the Lokayukta police, Mr. Jayachandra said that the Lokayukta police had better knowledge of the subject and also, they have designated courts for speedy trial of cases.

Apart from covering cases of illegal extraction of iron ore during 2009 and 2010, the probe would look into alleged irregularities committed by Bhakta Markandeya Minerals, Eagle Traders, ILK Industries, Jantakal Enterprises, Sri Venkateshwara Minerals, Hanuman Mines, B.R. Yogendranath Singh and MML officials, the Minister said.

Service centres

The Cabinet approved a proposal to set up common service centres in all gram panchayat headquarters [numbering over 5,600] in the State to provide a variety of services under one roof. While the Union government provides 50 per cent of the funds, the balance amount has to be spent by the State government. The project cost is about Rs. 78 crore and the government has decided to opt for public-private partnership, Mr. Jayachandra said.

Veterinary colleges

The Minister, who is in-charge of the Animal Husbandry Department, said that the Cabinet approved a proposal to release Rs. 53 crore and Rs. 68 crore to government veterinary colleges in Hassan and Shimoga respectively in a single instalment. The funds are meant for providing basic infrastructure in these colleges as directed by the Veterinary Council of India. The government has given administrative approval to spend Rs. 131 crore and Rs. 136 crore, in all, respectively for these colleges.

Mr. Jayachandra said that he has ordered transfer of 18 doctorate degree holders in his department to these colleges to address the problem of shortage of teaching faculty. By the time, the Veterinary Council of India committee visits these colleges in May next, they would be equipped with all basic necessities, the Minister said.

‘G’ category sites

The Cabinet decided to form a sub-committee under Mr. Jayachandra to examine the report submitted by the B. Padmaraj committee on allotment of discretionary quota (G category) sites by Chief Ministers through Bangalore Development Authority. The sub-committee would examine framing of rules for such allotments in future as recommended by the committee.

Other decisions

The Minister said that the legislature session in Belgaum will be held between November 25 and December 6.

He said that G.K. Vasantha Kumar, Additional Secretary (Food Processing) has been re-designated as Special Secretary (Agriculture and Food Processing).

He said that the margin money of fair price shop owners under the public distribution system (PDS) has been increased from Rs. 31 to Rs. 36 a quintal to meet increased transportation costs.

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