Lokayukta blames BSY, family for mining scam
Embattled Karnakata chief minister BS Yeddyurappa vacationed in sunny Mauritius with his children and grandchildren as a political storm over alleged corruption involving him, his family and his administration reached gale force. Samar Halarnkar reports. The great storm over KarnatakaUpdated: Jul 22, 2011 02:08 IST
Embattled Karnakata chief minister BS Yeddyurappa vacationed in sunny Mauritius with his children and grandchildren as a political storm over alleged corruption involving him, his family and his administration reached gale force.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.
"The Republic of Bellary," is one of the current report's chapters, a reference to the impoverished eastern district that is home to 99 iron-ore mines and produces 75% of Karnataka's production.
The mines are also being investigated independently by the Supreme Court.
The report is likely to indict the Obulapuram Mining Company, run by tourism minister Janardhana Reddy and his brother, revenue minister G Karunakara Reddy.
Health minister B Srimulu and the children of housing minister V Somanna are likely to be named for other mining illegalities.
"I have not yet decided on a date to release the report," said Hegde, as his officials prepared to send the report, a few lines of which were leaked on Wednesday, for printing.
Justice Hegde, who had his office swept for bugs planted by the government, told reporters his mobile, home and office phones were tapped.
In the high court, justice KN Keshavanarayana lifted a stay he had himself ordered on a trial court order to the police to investigate complaints of illegal land deals involving the CM, sons BY Raghavendra and BY Vijayendra and son-in-law Sohan Kumar.
The same quartet is also likely to be accused in the lokayukta report, in this case of selling land to mining companies at 10 to 20-times the market value and depositing the returns in the Prena Education Society run by the Yeddyurappa family.
The lokayukta has no powers to start civil or criminal action. So, if Yeddyurappa so chooses, he can ignore the second report, as he did the first.
"Whether the government implements the report or not is not my concern," said Hegde.
First Published: Jul 21, 2011 13:30 IST