Staff Reporter

Kakinada: Zilla Parishad chairman Ch Venugopala Krishna has denied his involvement in the illegal laterite and bauxite mining at Vanthada village in Prathipadu mandal.

He also dismissed the allegations that Social Welfare Minister Subhaschandra Bose had a stake in the project. ``Vanthada has become a picnic spot for Opposition parties. Knowing pretty well that the mining lease was granted in 2004 during the TDP regime, they dragged me and the Minister into the controversy purely for political reasons,'' the ZP chief said.

Addressing a press conference here on Wednesday, Mr. Venugopala Krishna said it was true that lease-holder Lakshmana Reddy was a follower of Mr. Bose but the latter had no participating interest in the mining project as alleged by the TDP MLAs who visited Vanthada a few days ago.

They should show evidence of the Minister's partnership in the mining activity or retract their statements.

The ZP chairman claimed that he too had nothing to do with the mining at Vanthada.

Collector M Ravi Chandra has ordered an inquiry into the mining project and the report was expected to be submitted in about 10 days. If the Opposition parties still have apprehensions, they might seek an inquiry of higher level.

We are prepared for any probe and the onus of proving the allegations lied on leaders of the TDP and other parties who cast the aspersions. The entire gamut of issues like the annual turnover (estimated at Rs 5 crores), royalties paid to the Government etc could be investigated.