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SIT to probe cases of illegal iron ore export from four ports

Mining News - Published on Fri, 19 Jan 2018

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Ahead of the Legislative Assembly polls in the State, the Congress government has decided to reopen the illegal iron ore export cases closed by the Central Bureau of Investigation by authorising the Special Investigation Team to probe afresh the cases of illegal export of ore.

A State Cabinet meeting chaired by Chief Minister Siddaramaiah accepted the recommendation of the Cabinet subcommittee, headed by Rural Development and Panchayat Raj Minister Mr HK Patil, that recommended the SIT probe.

The decision was taken in the wake of the of CBI closing the cases of illegal export of iron ore through New Mangalore Port Trust, Karwar, Panaji, and Marmagoa ports citing “lack of prima facie evidence”.

An SIT probe might put BJP leaders in an embarrassing spot during the run-up to the polls.

Mr. Siddaramaiah became Chief Minister in 2013 after he conducted a padayatra to Ballari against illegal mining during the BJP regime.

Briefing reporters on the Cabinet decisions, Law and Parliamentary Affairs Minister TB Jayachandra said the SIT would get all the records transferred from the CBI. Illegalities in export of iron ore was exposed by former Lokayukta N Santosh Hegde.

Explaining the Cabinet decisions, Mr Jayachandra said the CBI had conducted the probe following the Supreme Court order after hearing a petition of the Samaj Parivartan Samudaya.

The CBI probed the cases involving export of over 50,000 tonnes, while state SIT was given cases below 50,000 tonnes. Mr. Jayachnadra said the SIT has completed its probe into 72 cases so far and filed charge sheets in 22 cases. The Cabinet decided to confiscate the properties of those involved in these cases to recover loss to the state exchequer from illegal mining.

A report of the Karnataka Lokayukta exposed the scam had estimated the total loss to exchequer due to illegal export of iron ore from NMPT and Karwar ports at about INR 16,000 crore in four years (2006-2010). The expose had forced former chief minister BS. Yeddyurappa to resign.

It is said that 130 companies (54 in Mangaluru and 76 in Belekeri) are involved in exporting 3.65 lakh tonnes of iron ore from Karnataka ports. ?

The CBI had in its communication to the State government expressed its “helplessness” in continuing the probe into illegal iron ore exports from NMPT and Karwar port due to lack of adequate evidence.

Meanwhile, SIT which is probing into cases of illegal ore export below 50,000 tonnees has registered 72 cases so far and filed charge sheets in 22 cases.

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Posted By : Rabi Wangkhem on Fri, 19 Jan 2018
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