The move by the Government to “nominate” Director, Department of Mines and Geology H.R. Srinivasa to undergo compulsory training for IAS officers at a time when the process of inquiry and prosecution of high profile politicians is getting momentum, and the transfer of Deputy Inspector-General of Police, Lokayukta, Pranob Mohanty, have come in for criticism from the Janata Dal (S) and activists fighting illegal mining, as well as Lokayukta police.
The move is being dubbed as a systematic attempt to weaken the “local investigative base” of the machinery that is handling illegal mining and attendant issues. It is significant that the Central Empowered Committee (CEC) appointed by the Forest Bench of the Supreme Court to study and submit a report on illegal mining in Karnataka in its report submitted to the court on August 18, 2011 requested the Chief Secretary not to relieve Mr. Srinivasa for compulsory training.
Noting that Mr. Srinivasa is actively involved in the complex task of survey and the demarcation of mines and in complying with the various orders of the court relating to the suspension of mining operations, the report said that, “he has recently been nominated by the Government of India to undergo the compulsory training course for IAS officers from August 22 to October 15”.
“Keeping in view of his deep knowledge, experience, impeccable integrity, commitment to regulate mining in Karnataka notwithstanding the complexities involved therein and to ensure strict compliance of the orders of the court, it is imperative that at this critical juncture the officer continues to function as Director of Mines and Geology. Considering the request, Chief Secretary S.V. Ranganath has assured the CEC that he would be taking appropriate action in the matter,” said the report by CEC Member-Secretary M.K. Jiwarjka.
In another development, the State Government on Monday transferred DIG Police, Lokayukta Pranob Mohanty, who held the post since July 1, 2009 as Joint Commissioner of Police-Crime (West) Bangalore. Mr. Mohanty played a significant role in the investigation of illegal mining. It is also significant that Mr. Mohany was playing an important role in exposing corruption and plundering of forest area. His contribution in containing looting of forest wealth in Bastar area of Orissa is significant.
Political parties have dubbed the transfer of Mr. Mohanty as an attempt to weaken the local investigative base.
The petitioner in a writ petition on illegal mining in the Karnataka, Vishnu Kamat, has expressed disappointment over the move by the Government to send Mr. Srinivasa to compulsory training and transfer of Mr. Mohanty.
A cross-section of officials in the Lokayukta expressed dismay over the transfer. One Lokayukta police official said, “In the last few months we have lost R.K. Dutta (former ADGP of Lokayukta), Madhukar Shetty (former SP) and now Mr. Mohanty. The three pillars of strength that ensured that we could work without fear or favour have been removed.”