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Over 600 Karnataka officials may face action on illegal mining

Posted by Admin on October 28, 2011

http://in.news.yahoo.com/over-600-karnataka-officials-may-face-action-illegal-105425425.html

By Indo Asian News Service | IANS – 6 hours ago

Bangalore, Oct 27 (IANS) Perhaps for the first time in India, over 600 officials may face action in one single state for one crime — illegal mining. Karnataka is set to achieve that dubious distinction as 617 officials, a few of them from the highly prized Indian Administrative Service (IAS), are to be punished.

The Karnataka cabinet is meeting Friday to accept an official panel’s report recommending action against these officials whom the Lokayukta (ombudsman) has held guilty of abetting/facilitating illegal mining in the state, official sources told IANS Thursday.

The officials belong to various departments such as mining, forest, revenue and transport.

Of the officials three are from the IAS and four from the Indian Forest Service, the sources said but declined to name them.

The Lokayukta had in its July 27 report on massive illegal mining had identified over 787 officials, some by name and others by designation, involved in abetting/facilitating illegal mining. It recommended action against them.

Under the Lokayukta rules, the state government has three months to accept or reject the report.

The Lokayukta report led to the fall of the first Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government headed by B.S. Yeddyurappa as his trial was recommended for corruption in the scam. He resigned July 31 and the new government headed by D.V. Sadananda Gowda took office Aug 4.

Gowda set up a committee of senior officials headed by Additional Chief Secretary K. Jairaj to study the Lokayukta report and give its recommendation on the action to be taken against the officials.

The Jairaj panel submitted the report to Chief Secretary S.V. Ranganath Monday.

The report will be considered by the cabinet Friday as the government has to meet the stipulation that it should either accept or reject the Lokayukta findings in three months, the sources said.

The rules state that if the government does not reject the report in three months, it is taken as accepted.

The sources said the cabinet is likely to accept the Jairaj panel recommendation to act against the officials and communicate the same to the Lokayukta soon.

The illegal mining scandal has rocked Karnataka since 2006 when H.D. Kumaraswamy of Janata Dal-Secular (JD-S) headed the JD-S-BJP coalition government.

Mining baron and former BJP minister G. Janardhana Reddy, now in Hyderabad jail for illegal mining in Andhra Pradesh, accused Kumaraswamy of taking Rs.150 crore bribe to allow illegal mining.

Kumaraswamy referred to the allegations against him to the Lokayukta, then headed by N. Santosh Hegde, a retired judge of the Supreme Court.

The scope of Hegde’s probe was enlarged after Yeddyurappa became chief minister in May 2008.

Hegde, whose term as Lokayukta ended Aug 2, estimated in his report that Karnataka has suffered a loss of over Rs.16,000 crore because of illegal mining.

Besides recommending trial of Yeddyurappa and action against over 700 officials, he had said Reddy, his elder brother G. Karunakara and their associate B. Sriramulu be dropped from the Yeddyurappa cabinet.

All three lost ministership when Yeddyurappa himself quit July 31.

Reddy was arrested Sep 5 by the Central Bureau of Investigation in connection with illegal mining in Andhra Pradesh and is now in Hyderabad’s Chanchalaguda jail.

Yeddyurappa is also in jail in Bangalore but in connection with other corruption cases against him.

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