Illegal mining: Lokayukta slams Government

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TALKING TOUGH: Lokayukta N. Santosh Hegde addressing the media in Bangalore on Monday.
TALKING TOUGH: Lokayukta N. Santosh Hegde addressing the media in Bangalore on Monday.

Staff Reporter

Santosh Hegde terms ATR an ‘action to be taken report’

BANGALORE: Expressing dissatisfaction with the Action Taken Report (ATR) submitted by the State Government on the findings of the Lokayukta concerning irregularities and illegalities in the mining sector, Lokayukta N. Santosh Hegde said: “It’s not an action taken report, but action to be taken report.”

Mr. Hegde told presspersons on Monday that the ATR contained directions and show-cause notices that were issued in February. “It does not say anything as to whether these directions were acted upon. There is no mention as to what actions have been taken between February and July,” he said and added: “On the request of the Government, I had allowed them three extra months to file the ATR. This extension has not served any purpose.”

The State Government on July 10 submitted to the Lokayukta its action taken report (ATR) on the findings of illegalities and irregularities in the mining sector. The ATR submitted to the Lokayukta is in 11 volumes containing the responses of various departments.

Border row

Referring to his recommendation about the joint survey of the Karnataka-Andhra Pradesh border in Bellary and the need to stop illegal mining in that area, Mr. Hegde, quoting the ATR, said that the Chief Minister had written to the Prime Minister and Union Minister for Science and Technology on this issue but action had not been taken by the Centre.

The Lokayukta said: “The Government, instead of remaining silent, should have pursued the matter and taken action to stop illegal mining in the border areas, which is still continuing.”

In another instance, the State Government had not commented on 39 cases of “Raising Contracts” used for illegal mining.

Raising Contract is an agreement permitting a third person to carry out mining activity on behalf of the mining lease holder, which is prohibited under the Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Act 1957.

“The Government has commented only about the loss suffered by State-owned Mysore Minerals Ltd. about the Raising Contract entered into by it. It has not said anything about the other 38 cases,” he said. On the question of de-reservation of forest land, the Lokayukta said the State Government in the ATR had said it was waiting for the information from the State Forest Department.

“Why should the Government wait for Forest Department to submit the files when the records are already with it. How long does it take to get the relevant records from its own officers?,” he asked.

To the issue of fly ash contamination as the ore was transported, Mr. Hegde said the Government in the ATR had said it had asked lorries to spray water on the roads as they moved and cover the vehicles with tarpaulin. “What kind of response is this? Does it indicate any concern for the environment and the health of the common man?,” he asked.

On the loss suffered by the State-owned Mysore Minerals Ltd, Mr. Hegde said the Government had stated that the MML had inflated its losses in its statement to the Lokayukta, which was around Rs. 600 crore. The Government said the actual loss was around Rs. 140 crore. Mr. Hegde wondered if the MML officials had inflated the loss figures why did the Government not take action against them, instead of merely pointing it out in the ATR.

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