KARNATAKA

Forest de-reserved for mining: Hegde

Raghava M.

‘Minister and an IAS officer falsely stated the land was not reserve forest’



Rules were bent to avoid getting clearance from CEC of the Supreme Court: report

MML pressured into sub-leasing of mining



BANGALORE: The Lokayukta report has found several instances of political inference and favouritism in the decision making process in relation to mining. This includes the decision to de-reserve several acres of forest land by falsely mentioning it as a non-forest land.

The first report on fraudulent activities related to mining between 2000 and 2008 points out that a Minister and an IAS officer falsely mentioned the area coming under the reserve forest as a non-forest land and went ahead to issue notification de-reserving the land. The report points that this was done in order to avoid the process of getting clearance from the Central Empowered Committee (CEC) of the Supreme Court to use forest land for non-forestry purpose.

The Lokayukta has found this while looking at the outcome of the Government Order issued in March 2003 for de-reserving 11,620 acres of government land for private mining. This was one of the several issues the State Government had asked Lokayukta N. Santosh Hegde to inquire into.

The other issues include the irregularities in the Mysore Minerals Ltd, the only government entity authorised to do mining in Bellary and irregularities in issuance of transport permits.

The report states that the State Government went ahead de-reserving land in accordance with the Central Government’s policy to encourage mining.

It was laid down that if the land was a part of the forest, then the State Government should get the clearance of the CEC before it de-reserves the forest land and allots it to private companies for mining.

The Minister and the IAS officer went ahead to state that the de-reserved land does not contain any forest land and the notification was issued.

The de-reserved land was not allotted to anybody till 2006, the report said. The Lokayukta had indicted the Minister as well as the IAS officer.

The other instance of political interference has been in the decisions of Mysore Minerals in sub-leasing mining to private parties and in sale of iron ore.

Several legislators have written to MML recommending names of persons to be allowed to do mining.

The inquiry has found five cases where the MML had iron ore to persons recommended by legislators at a price far less than the standard price

The report asked the State Government to frame rules barring legislators from interfering in commercial transaction.