In the first major crackdown on illegal mining in Madhya Pradesh, eight persons involved in stone mining were arrested in Nagod and Unchehra forest areas of Satna district on Saturday.
The alleged kingpin of the mining mafia, Rupendra Singh alias Baba Raja, the nephew of PWD minister Nagendra Singh, however managed to flee before a police and forest department team raid.
“Raja escaped when his house was raided. The challans will be put in court in the next few days,” said chief conservator of Unchehra forests BB Singh.
The joint team raided several villages near Unchehra forests after a report by additional principal chief conservator of forest Jagdish Prasad Sharma exposed massive illegal mining going on in the region for years.
According to Sharma’s report — published in HT on November 10 — two ministers, Nagendra Singh and mineral resources minister Rajendra Shukla, are also involved in illegal mining. The ministers have, however, denied their involvement. The report had also named Raja as the kingpin of the mining mafia.
In his report, Sharma alleged that there was a nexus between forest department officials and illegal miners, and had recommended immediate removal of tainted officials from the two forest regions. Following this, Unchehra forest circle ranger YN Vishwakarma was removed and deputy ranger Dheerendra Singh was suspended.