External Affairs Minister S.M. Krishna on Sunday denied issuing any licence for mining in forest area when he was Karnataka Chief Minister. He also shot down accusations that the State had suffered losses or that he had gained wrongfully.
Mr. Krishna sought to clarify his position through two statements in the wake of a complaint filed against him and the State Lokayukta Justice N.K.Sudhindra Rao ordering a probe against him and two other former Chief Ministers, N. Dharam Singh and H.D. Kumarswamy, and seeking a report by January 6.
The Union Minister underlined need to clarify matters, saying that “silence on my part would give rise to speculations.” He pointed out that the then Lokayukta, Justice Santosh Hegde, had conducted a detailed enquiry into the mining issue from 1999 to 2010 — covering his tenure from 1999 to 2004 as well. He said he was not indicted in the report and that the latter too had gone on record in public confirming this.
Mr. Krishna denied any kind of de-reservation of forests, saying that in 2003 the Cabinet approved de-reserving mineral wealth for mining under the Minerals Concession Rules 1960 and, pursuant to that, a gazette notification was issued under which a “no objection certificate” had to be obtained from the Forest Department for mining leases.
He said he had never held the portfolio of Mines and Geology. “To the best of my knowledge, no mining licence was issued during my tenure. Had it been done, it would have had been by the competent authorities.” In such a situation, “there is no loss to the government. Consequently there is no wrongful gain.”