Bangalore: A leading NGO on whose petition the apex court banned mining in Karnataka on Wednesday accused External Affairs Minister SM Krishna of abetting illegal mining in the state when he was chief minister from 1999-2004.
Krishna failed to cancel the lease of a mining firm, which illegally extracted iron ore from the 20.7-acre mining area of the state-run National Mineral Development Corporation (NMDC) in Bellary district, ignoring the advice of then union minister of state for steel Dilip Ray, National Committee for Protection of Natural Resources (NCPNR) president SR Hiremath told reporters here.
Releasing documents, including a letter Ray wrote to Krishna March 13, 2000, Hiremath said though stringent action against Deccan Mining Syndicate Ltd (DMS), including termination of its mining lease was sought for its illegal activities since 1993-94 in the NMDC area, Krishna ignored the advice in violation of the Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Act, 1957.
The Supreme Court July 29 banned mining in Karnataka after the Dharwad-based NGO filed a petition against the multi-crore mining scam in the state on the basis of the two investigation reports (interim and final) submitted by former Lokayukta (ombudsman) Justice (retired) Santosh N. Hegde to the state government July 27, 2011 and Dec 18, 2010.
Though Krishna assured Ray April 10, 2000 that he would have the matter looked into, he did not initiate any punitive action against DMS, which is owned by mining baron S.M. Jain of Bellary, about 300 km from here.
Krishna has all along denied any wrong and secured a four-week stay from the Karnataka High Court Dec 15, 2011 in a case registered against him in the Lokayukta trial court on a private complaint filed by a Bangalore businessman T.J. Abraham, alleging that Krishna had allowed illegal mining activity to continue during his tenure as chief minister.
Describing the accusations against him as unholy attempts at character assassination, Krishna said last month that he never held the portfolio of mines and geology.
Krishna also clarified that Hegde’s report did not indict him and his name did not figure in the ombudsman’s inquiry into the mining scam.
The CBI is also investigating into the role of DMS in the multi-crore mining scam in the state from 2006 to 2010 in collusion with Oballapuram Mining Company and Associated Mining Company of scam-tainted mining baron Gali Janardhan Reddy.
The NGO has also released a list of mining leases sanctioned or recommended during the tenure of Krishna, Singh and former chief ministers H.D. Kumaraswamy in 2006-07 and B.S. Yeddyurappa in 2008-10.