External affairs minister SM Krishna on Wednesday accused the BJP government in Karnataka of sending "doctored and concocted" information to a Supreme Court appointed panel on illegal mining, saying it was a deliberate attempt to 'defame' him.
"A deliberate attempt has been made to defame me by sending doctored and concocted information subsequent to filing of the first response", he said in a letter to chief minister DV Sadananda Gowda, whose government recently sent its supplementary response to the Apex Court's Central Empowered Committee.
The government's action came amid pressure by BS Yeddyurappa, who himself had to quit as chief minister over the Lokayukta report on illegal mining in July last year that the first report sent in May had 'suppressed' certain facts over illegal mining during the regime of three former chief ministers – Krishna, N Dharam Singh and HD Kumaraswamy.
Rejecting allegations that he had de-reserved forest area for mining, Krishna said "it is both unfortunate and beyond comprehension that the same government felt compelled to file a second response to CEC even when not asked for".
He said the cabinet at its December 16, 2002 meeting decided to de-reserve 11,620.56 sq km of mineral bearing areas out of a total of 26,464.58 sq km that had been earlier reserved for state exploitation.
"What is very obvious and is factually correct is that the forests were not de-reserved as is being wrongly made out. It is mineral bearing areas and not forests that were de-reserved", he said.
Krishna noted that the Lokayukta report has never held the "de-reservation" to be bad, but recommended that six blocks in reserved forest and seven in the state forests de-reserved earlier by the 2002 cabinet decision be "re-reserved".
He said a cabinet meeting chaired by Yeddyurappa had decided to continue to keep all these blocks under de-reservation.
He dubbed as "not only factually incorrect, but to say the least mischievous",the response stating that the Lokayukta report (part-I) has concluded that de-reserved area of 11,620 sq km and surrendered area of 6,832.48 hectares of prime iron ore bearing land have paved the way for distribution of public assets to select private individuals and entities without regard to their professional or technical or business background.
Krishna asserted that as Chief Minister from October 1999 to May 2004, he had never held the portfolio of Mines and Geology and had not recommended even a single case to the union Government for consideration of grant of mining lease, contrary to what has been sought to be made out in the state government's response.
Krishna said he expected the government to be "factual, fair, unbiased and responsible" while dealing with any matter, particularly when the response is to be filed before an important body like CEC.
He asked Gowda to advise the concerned to withdraw the supplementary response sent to CEC and set the record straight.