As the Bharatiya Janata Party is set to stage a dharna by its MPs, legislators and party leaders in Bangalore on Monday demanding that Minister Santosh Lad be sacked from the Cabinet in the wake of the charge that his partnership firm, V.S. Lad and Sons, was involved in illegal mining, Mr. Lad says that there is not an iota of evidence suggested by the investigation agencies to prove the allegations.
Excerpts from the interview with Mr. Lad:
You are in the eye of a storm following allegations of indulging in illegal mining and pressure is mounting on you to quit. What is your view on this?
People should first understand illegal mining. Any extraction of mineral ore without licence is illegal mining. My firm, V.S. Lad and Sons, or I are not involved in any such activities. The major contention is that the name of our firm has figured in the Lokayukta report. However, we have clarified on this aspect about the mistaken identity where we have nothing to do with VSL Mining Company Private Limited which is accused of exporting iron ore from Belikeri Port. Based on the Lokayukta’s report, three different investigation agencies, the CID, the CBI and the Central Empowered Committee (CEC), have investigated and submitted their reports to the Supreme Court. But neither my name nor my firm’s name has figured in any of the reports.
But the Supreme Court has placed your company under “C” category for violation of the norms?
We have been placed under “C” category not because of illegal mining, but because of ‘overburden dumps’. We have challenged this in the writ and review petitions before the Supreme Court.
Mr. Hiremath has said that the final judgment of the Forest Bench of the Supreme Court on April 18, 2013 has stated that your firm was involved in “gross illegal mining”.
It is a misleading interpretation. The Supreme Court has said that the encroachment is only with respect to overburdening of dumps by a marginal percentage.
How does the controversy end?
There is no controversy. It is only a political agenda (by the BJP). I would request the BJP to give the documents to prove the allegations against me to either the CBI or the Supreme Court. If the BJP really thinks that I am wrong, why they did not act against me when they were in power?