The Telugu Desam Party (TDP), Left parties and the Rashtriya Lok Dal (RLD) on Saturday sought a Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC) probe into what they described as “activities of the mining mafia that is looting the wealth of the nation through illegal mining in encroached areas including forest areas.”
TDP president N. Chandrababu Naidu who is here for the last two days mobilising support for his crusade against the “activities” of the Reddy brothers of Karnataka — Revenue Minister G. Karunakara Reddy and Tourism Minister G. Janardhana Reddy and their mining company Obulapuram Mining Company Private Limited (OMC) — addressed a joint press conference with CPI general secretary A.B. Bardhan, CPI (M) Polit Bureau member Brinda Karat and RLD president Ajit Singh here.
“Devise new policy”
The leaders alleged that “illegal mining” by Reddy brothers in AP and Karnataka could be a massive scam and urged Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to immediately convene an all-party meet to debate the issue and formulate a new comprehensive mining policy to save the nation’s wealth. They wanted suspension of all mining in the country and a ban on iron ore exports. Mining permission should be given only to the captive mining industries, Mr. Naidu demanded.
Mr. Naidu said he met or spoke over phone with other Opposition leaders and they all agreed to his demands. The leaders include Janata Dal (Secular) president H.D. Deve Gowda, Janata Dal (United) president Sharad Yadav, AIADMK general secretary Jayalalithaa, Samajwadi president Mulayam Singh, Rashtriya Janata Dal president Lalu Prasad and Biju Janata Dal president Naveen Patnaik. He also planned to speak to Trinamool Congress president Mamata Banerjee and seek her support.
Mr. Bardhan said while the mining companies gave only a pittance to the government for the minerals taken out by them – it varies between Rs. 4 and Rs. 20 per tonne depending on the quality of the iron ore – the profit earned by them through exports runs into thousands of crores.
Ms. Karat asked why the forest department, which acted tough against the tribals even if they occupied one inch of the forest land, remained silent when acres and acres of the forest land were encroached upon in A.P. and Karnataka by the mining lobby. Despite the indictment of the A.P. government by the Central Empowered Committee, appointed by the Supreme Court to go into the OMC issue, why was the Centre silent, she wanted to know.
Mr. Ajit Singh said the report of the committee was a clincher and no further probe into the illegal mining was needed.