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Governor pads up, says will act on lokayukta report

Karnataka governor HR Bhardwaj said he would go by the recommendations of lokayukta N Santosh Hegde on illegal mining and emphasised that he was the only constitutional authority to take action against chief minister BS Yeddyurappa.
By HT Correspondent | IANS, Bangalore
UPDATED ON JUL 22, 2011 03:22 PM IST

Karnataka governor HR Bhardwaj said he would go by the recommendations of lokayukta N Santosh Hegde on illegal mining and emphasised that he was the only constitutional authority to take action against chief minister BS Yeddyurappa.

The ombudsman's report had not yet been given to the state government, Bhardwaj told reporters, adding that if he received it from a competent authority, he would act on it according to the lokayukta act.

"Justice Hegde is a competent man. Whatever he recommends, I will go according to it," Bhardwaj said.

Yeddyurappa, mining barons and ministers the Reddy brothers, Janata Dal-Secular leader HD Kumaraswamy and Congress MP Anil Lad were named by the Lokayukta in his report on illegal mining, which was leaked before its release.

Hegde blamed Yeddyurappa and four of his ministers for illegal mining that has caused a Rs 1,827 crore loss to the exchequer in over a year.

Replying to a volley of questions about possible action against the chief minister, Bhardwaj said he would not like to comment till the report was submitted.

"All (of it) has to be studied," Bhardwaj said, adding that he was the only constitutional authority to take action against the chief minister.

He said he would see what is written about the chief minister, ministers, legislators and MPs in the report.

He said, "Will act on Lokayukta report on illegal mining issue...wait for two days".

"No decision in haste on Yeddyurappa," said Bhardwaj.

On Thursday, the Karnataka high court allowed the police to question the chief minister and his family over illegal land deals, and lokayukta justice Santosh Hegde prepared to release a report accusing Yeddyurappa, four ministers, political opponents and bureaucrats of corruption linked to illegal mining.

More than 500 people, among Karnataka's most powerful, have been named in the second report on illegal mining - the first was in 2009 - of about 8,000 pages, a source close to the largest such investigation in any Indian state told HT.

Lokayukta investigators checked more than four lakh bank accounts to track money trails and identify about 4,000 people linked to illegal mining.

The report said illegal mining cost the government Rs 1,827 crore in dodged taxes and other levies between April 2009 and May 2010.

"Every party has its hands in the till," the source said. Over the past 17 years, 11,600 sq km of land has been opened to private mining. That's more than 15 times the area of the National Capital Region of Delhi.

On Thursday, politicians from the Janata Dal (S) and the Congress accused the BJP of corruption and then defended their own involvement with mining companies exporting iron ore, primarily to China.

The lokayukta's net will likely spread beyond the CM to his bête noir, former JD(S) chief minister HD Kumaraswamy, who is accused of granting mining leases despite objections from the bureaucracy, to Congress MP Anil Lad, accused of illegal mining using false names.

Hegde's first report accused former Congress CM Dharam Singh of causing a Rs 23-crore loss by giving permits to transport illegally mined iron ore. (With HTC inputs)

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