Congress leaders V.S. Ugrappa and K.C. Kondaiah on Monday urged the State government to include a “recovery clause” in the terms of reference for the probe into illegal mining by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI).

Thanking the government for fulfilling its promise of handing over the illegal mining case to the CBI, Mr. Urgappa said although the Lokayukta report had recommended recovery, the CBI’s probe may find a bigger loss to the State exchequer.

“We believe that the government can recover up to Rs. 1 lakh crore from illegal mine owners. That is why the inclusion of a recovery clause in the terms of reference of the CBI probe is a must,” he said.

Mr. Ugrappa said the money recovered could be used for development of the State in the fields of irrigation, health, education, among others.

He said the Congress was hopeful that encroached land in the mining belt of the State would be recovered after the completion of the joint inter-State border survey, which is taking place as per the Supreme Court direction. “We have learnt that the Centre’s Survey of India and Survey Departments of Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh are meeting on October 25. After the survey is completed, our lost land can be recovered,” he said.

When asked if he wanted the terms of references to also include the period of illegal mining prior to 2004, when Congress was ruling the State and Dharam Singh (whose name figured in the Lokayukta report and was later removed by the Governor), Mr. Ugrappa argued that there was no illegal mining prior to 2004.

However, Mr. Kondaiah, who hails from Bellary district, said he would welcome any period of illegal mining if the government included it in the terms of reference. “Whoever is found guilty, irrespective of the party they belong to, should be punished,” he said.

On the controversy surrounding Minister of State for Infrastructure Santosh Lad and his alleged involvement in illegal mining, the Congress leaders said Mr. Lad was not involved. However, a decision on this issue had to be taken by Chief Minister Siddaramaiah, they said.

RSS march past

Reacting to the march past by Rashtriya Swayamsevak Sangh members in the city on Sunday and their attempt to enter the Idgah ground in Chamarajpet, Mr. Ugrappa alleged that Bangalore city Mayor B.S. Sathyanarayana and Bangalore South MP H.N. Ananth Kumar were trying to create a sense of terror among the minds of minorities.

“The RSS is trying to replicate moral policing on the lines of Mangalore in Bangalore also. They had taken permission only for march past and not to enter the Idgah ground. “It is ridiculous that the RSS members and even the Mayor argued that it was a BBMP ground and anyone could enter. If the Mayor and Mr. Ananth Kumar have respect for the law, they should apologise to the people,” Mr. Ugrappa added.

We believe the government can recover up to

Rs. 1 lakh crore from illegal mine owners: Ugrappa