Legislators want swift closure and money to be recovered from officials

The State government is examining setting up a fast-track court to try those named in the Rs. 16,085-crore mining scam in the State, Chief Minister Siddaramaiah told the Legislative Assembly on Tuesday.

In reply to Mallikarjun Siddaramappa Khuba (JD-S) during Question Hour, Mr. Siddaramaiah said “we will consider” the demand made by members on setting up of a fast-track court to try officials involved in the illegal mining scam.

Earlier, Basavaraj Rayareddy (Congress) stressed the need for setting up a fast-track court to expedite cases and recover money from the officials.

Big losses

The former Lokayukta Santosh N. Hegde, in his final report submitted to the government on July 27, 2011, said the loss to the State exchequer from illegal mining from 2006 to 2010 was Rs. 16,085 crore.

Mr. Siddaramaiah admitted to delay in action against officials named in the report, but blamed the previous BJP government for it, pointing out that the Congress came to power only two months ago.

Responding to questions from Eshwar Bheemanna Khandre (Congress) and Mr. Rayareddy, he said the government would recover the loss caused from retired officials also.

He said notices were issued to 198 officials, criminal cases filed against five and 97 officials were being probed by the Lokayukta.

The previous BJP government had accepted the report of a high-level committee headed by the former Additional Chief Secretary K. Jairaj, which studied the final report of the Lokayukta on illegal mining and export of iron ore in the State. The D.V. Sadananda government decided to take action against 417 officials, who were involved.

The Lokayukta report recommended action against 617 officials of various departments.

Meeting planned

Mr. Siddaramaiah said he would convene a meeting after the conclusion of the ongoing session to address the issue of speeding up the process.

He said as per the Mineral Year Book, 2010, of the Indian Bureau of Mines, Karnataka has total deposits of 2,158 million tonnes of Hematite iron ore and 7,801 million tonnes of magnetite iron ore. He told Mr. Khandre and Mr. Rayareddy that the Union government has fixed 10 per cent (ad valorem basis) of market price of every tonne of iron ore as royalty.

He also indicated raising royalty on iron ore. “We will try to increase royalty after consulting with the Union government,” he said.

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