The Karnataka Lokayukta has recommended prosecution of Chief Minister BSYeddyurappa under the Prevention of Corruption Act for an illegal financial dealing relating to iron ore mining, setting the ball rolling for leadership change in the state.
The much-awaited second report by the Karnataka Lokayukta on illegal mining and transportation of iron ore was submitted to the state government on Wednesday and a copy was sent to Governor HR Bhardwaj, who would be the authority to decide on the prosecution.
The Lokayukta has estimated a loss of Rs 16,085 crore to the state exchequer between 2006 and 2010 due to illegal mining and transportation of iron ore.
Addressing a mediapersons, Karnataka LokayuktaJustice Santosh Hegde said that certain transaction by a company dealing in iron ore donated Rs 10 crore to a trust managed by the chief minister’s children for “reasons other than genuine.”
The firm,Southwest Mining Company, purchased one acre from Yeddyurappa’s children in Bangalore for Rs 20 crore, 15 times higher than the government guidance value of Rs 1.4 crore. Justice Hegde remarked that this was an abnormal transaction and the Lokayukta had evidence to prove that company’s applications relating to iron ore mining was pending with the state government for forwarding it to the Centre.
Justice Hegde said, “We have made recommendations to the Governor to take further steps in this regard as he is the competent authority.”
Besides Yeddyurappa, other prominent ministers from the BJP government in Karnataka named in the report include Janaradhan Reddy, Karunakara Reddy, B Sriramulu and V Sommanna. From the Opposition, former Chief Minister HD Kumaraswamy and Congress MP Anil Lad figure in the report. On the Reddy brothers, Justice Hegde said, “they were claiming all this time they were not involved in illegal mining but we have enough evidence to prove otherwise.”
The report runs into 25,228 pages and was prepared based on four lakh files and 50,000 lakh book entries. It has estimated a loss of Rs 16,085 crore to the state exchequer between 2006 and 2010.
Justice Santosh Hegde has recommended that efforts should be made by the state government to recover the losses from erring companies and individuals at four times the original price.
The Lokayukta report said that there has been large scale irregularity in Bellary district leading to vast encroachments of forest land due to iron mining. It fears that the reserves would be depleted in another quarter of a century if it is mined in the current manner.
The Lokayukta report has indicted over 787 officials at all levels for their complicity in illegal mining.
Justice Santosh Hegde expressed fear for the safety of investigating officers who were part of the team that came out with the second report. “I not only perceive physical harm but also there is also every possibility of professional harassment.” Economic Times