Caught in a bitter war of words with the state governor, Karnataka Chief Minister B.S. Yeddyurappa has confirmed allegations of illegal mining in the state and has sought the Centre’s help to ban the export of iron ore.
In a letter to Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh, CM Yeddyurappa said the Central Vigilance Commission has been informed about the involvement of Custom and Port officials in smuggling of five-lakh tonnes of iron ore from Belikeri and Karwar ports this year. “Export from Belikeri port has been banned till further orders,” he said.
The CM, who has been facing the heat due to allegations against his ministers of being involved in illegal mining, said he had asked the Prime Minister to ban exports of iron ore, as it was the only way to stop illegal mining. Most of the smuggled iron ore from India is destined for China.
In the letter, he disapproved of Ramesh’s suggestion that the forest department should remove illegal encroachments saying the surveys to prevent encroachments in forest areas for mining cannot take place without specific court orders.
Ramesh in June had expressed deep concern over inaction of the Karnataka Forest Department regarding encroachments, a cause for rampant illegal iron-ore mining in Bellary district, where state Tourism Minister Janardhan Reddy have mining licences.
Karnataka Governor H.R. Bhardwaj had this week said that three ministers of Yeddyrappa cabinet were allegedly involved in the illegal mining and smuggling of iron ore.
Stepping up ante, the state Congress unit leaders on Saturday met Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and demanded a CBI inquiry into the illegal mining saying Yeddyurappa government was not taking action.
The CM had saidthe state CID was investigating the cases. In the three-page letter, the CM said some mining companies had challenged the state government’s action against them in the Bangalore HC. He admitted illegal mining had caused environmental loss to Bellary and Sandur areas.