Lokayukta investigation reveals ore is shipped from Krishnarajapatnam
BANGALORE: Ever since the Karwar and Belekere ports in Karnataka clamped down against export of illegally mined ore, those involved in the trade in Karnataka, particularly in Bellary district, have been allegedly despatching the ore abroad through ports in Andhra Pradesh.
Investigation of transportation of illegally mined ore has revealed that mine owners are transporting the ore to Krishnarajapatnam and other ports in Andhra Pradesh to be sent to foreign markets.
The on-going investigation by Karnataka Lokayukta has also revealed that those involved in mining had increased the quantum of iron ore being shipped out of the country during April. For, the ore has to be shipped out before the onset of monsoon.
“Those involved in the trade are taking advantage of the laxity in the Andhra Pradesh ports about checking the authenticity of the iron ore. The situation at Belekere and Karwar ports was also the same till the Lokayukta and the Forest Department brought pressure on the port authorities,” said a senior officer involved in the investigation.
There was a dip in the export of iron ore following the raid by a team led by Conservator of Forests U.V. Singh in February this year in the wake of complaints of use of fake transport permits. Subsequently, Deputy Conservator of Forest R. Gokul raided the Belekere port in the last week of March and seized iron ore worth nearly Rs. 200 crore.
Lokayukta N. Santosh Hegde held a meeting with the Principal Secretaries of departments of Commerce and Industries and Forest and Ecology and brought to their notice the illegal transportation of iron ore mined from Bellary to the two ports in Uttara Kannada district.
The Customs Department in Karnataka has now begun acting tough on the export of illegally mined ore. The department is having a series of meetings with the Forest and Police department officials to discuss the steps that need to be taken to prevent the export of illegally mined iron ore. The department is enforcing Rule 162 of the Forest Rules that prohibits export of forest produce without proper documents. The Belekere and Karwar port authorities are now insisting that exporters of iron ore produce all necessary documents about the ore that needs to be authenticated.
The Lokayukta investigation team has found some of the iron ore being transported without any documents. “Documents are not being carried in the vehicles carrying the ore but are directly reaching the port authorities,” the officer said.
The search conducted by Lokayukta team at different places in Hospet on Wednesday's search was a part of the investigation to find the source from where the iron ore is being mined. The Lokayukta team is verifying the documents recovered from the office of the Deputy Director of Mines and Geology with those recovered from the stockyards and mining areas.