Hiremath’s claims baseless, says V.S. Lad and Sons representative

The Samaj Parivartan Samudaya (SPS), which is fighting illegal mining in the State, on Wednesday alleged that the firm, in which Minister for Infrastructure Development Santosh S. Lad is a partner, has violated an order of the High Court of Karnataka by illegally transporting seized iron ore.

Responding to Mr. Siddaramaiah’s demand that “supporting documents” be provide to prove his allegations against V.S. Lad and Sons (Mr. Lad’s partnership firm), S.R. Hiremath, samudaya president, released copies of two First Information Reports (FIR) filed by Forest Department officials of Sandur, Lokayukta Report I (January 18, 2008), Central Empowered Committee reports submitted on April 4, 2011 and February 3, 2012 and the final judgment of the Supreme Court (April 18, 2013). Citing the first FIR (FOC 132/2008-09 of February 3, 2009), he alleged that V.S. Lad and Sons mined ore (81,529 tonnes valued at Rs. 8.96 crore) beyond its lease area and stored it in a “beneficiation plant and stockyard”.

The second FIR (FOC 32/2010-11 of August 28, 2010) and seizure report have accused V.S. Lad and Sons of “illegal transportation of the seized ore by violating an order of the Karnataka High Court,” he said. The Lokayukta report (January 18, 2008) and the JMFC seizure orders also mention these “illegal acts”, he added.

Central Empowered Committee categorised V.S. Lad and Sons (S. No. 45) under Category C and it is one of the 51 leases accused of committing “maximum illegalities”, he said and added that encroachment of 27.76 hectares of land has also been confirmed. Though the categorisation was challenged, the Supreme Court did not change the classification, he added.

Findings challenged

However, when contacted, Raghavendra Ghodke of V.S. Lad and Sons said that the claims of Mr. Hiremath were “baseless” as Lokayukta report was based on satellite imaging and a joint committee was formed to conduct a ground-level survey. The lessee has filed a revision petition questioning the classification under Category C, he said. On the FIR filed under Forest Offence Act, he said that the case was booked by forest officials who were under pressure from a former Minister, he said.

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