Staff Reporter

Commission has been empowered to probe bribery allegation, asserts Prakash

Panel set up to look into mining activity in the State36 cases of illegal mining detected in Bellary districtIron ore and dust valued at Rs. 1.73 crore seized in past 10 days

BANGALORE: Home and Law Minister M.P. Prakash has turned down the demand by the Congress and even the Bharatiya Janata Party to amend the terms of reference of the U.L. Bhat Commission of Inquiry to specifically include the Rs. 150-crore bribery charge against Chief Minister H.D. Kumaraswamy and two Cabinet ministers.

He told presspersons here on Thursday that Leader of the Opposition in the Legislative Assembly N. Dharam Singh and State BJP president D.V. Sadananda Gowda should have read the terms of reference carefully before airing their demand.

Notification

The July 22 notification on the appointment of the commission said it was meant "to comprehensively inquire into the charges, allegations, complaints of misuse and abuse of the office, if any, by elected representatives, politicians, ministers and officers who held or hold offices of profit for pecuniary benefit pertaining to illegal/unregulated mining, and incidental issues thereof, resulting in loss of revenue to the Government of Karnataka and public undertakings under the Government of Karnataka since January 1, 2000," Mr. Prakash noted. Only a comprehensive mining policy would help address the problems in the mining sector and labour-related issues effectively.

Chief Minister H.D. Kumaraswamy had written to the Centre to that effect, he said.

On the reported statement of Janata Dal (Secular) president H.D. Deve Gowda about the BJP's hand in the bribery allegation, Mr. Prakash, who is also the State JD(S) president, said what he had said might have "some truth."

Denies knowledge

He said he had no knowledge of Governor T.N. Chaturvedi having sent a report to the Centre on the bribery charge and the Congress memorandum in that context, to the Centre.

Mr. Prakash, who hails from Bellary district, said the officials concerned had detected 36 cases of illegal mining in the district and seized iron ore and dust valued at Rs. 1.73 crore in the past ten days.

Cases had been registered against some individuals and companies for their involvement in the illegal transportation of ore.

A team of officials had been sent to Anantapur in Andhra Pradesh for verifying some information, including the issuing of 300 permits in one day, Mr. Prakash said.

Office of profit Bill

On the issue of the Governor returning the office of profit Bill to the legislature, Mr. Prakash said Mr. Chaturvedi had only returned it with "utmost respect to the legislature for reconsideration" on three legal counts, including the question of adopting the Bill with retrospective effect.

As the Governor had only sought rectification of some legal points, there was no need to read meaning into his action, he said.

The Government would disburse, at a function to be held here on Friday, the reward of Rs. 18.5 crore to all those police personnel and others who were involved in the anti-Veerappan operations, Mr. Prakash added.

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