Friday, August 20, 2010

New modus operandi helps continue illegal mining

The ongoing probe into illegal mining have revealed some startling facts and the main one among them is that transportation of ore has gone up two fold after the ban on it was imposed.

The issue of illegal mining which rocked Parliament a couple of days ago is being probed by Lokayukta of Karnataka, Justice N Santosh Hegde. Justice Hegde who is expected to submit the entire report on illegal mining in another 4 months time told that the ban imposed a month ago has had absolutely no impact on the transportation of ore.

When the ban was initially imposed, I was happy that it would bring all activity to a halt and it would make the probe easier. However miners have made good use of the clause which states that there is a ban only on transportation where export of ore is concerned.

Over the past one month, some of the miners have started obtaining transport permits and under the guise of supplying ore to value added units, they have been exporting ore.

What we have found during the investigation is that all hold valid permits to transport ore to value added units in the state. However the trail has led elsewhere and not once has the ore reached a value added unit in the state. Instead it has always been exported illegally.

A new modus operandi:

Transportation of ore on the West Coast which leads up to the Karwar, Bilikere and Goa ports have come to a complete standstill. However a new road has opened up in Bellary on which illegal exporting of ore takes place. Our officers have found that there is a road called Hagari in Bellary which has opened up now for this purpose. On an average there are thousand lorries that ply on this road. This road which is a national highway was never used before for transportation of ore. However this highway which leads up to Ananthpur in Andhra Pradesh has now opened up and there is excessive activity on it. There is no reason why iron ore laden lorries have to ply on this particular road since there is not a single value added unit that is housed in the entire stretch.

The miners transport ore on the Hagere road and then reach Ananthpur from where they export the ore from the east coast.

The Karnataka government while issuing the ban had also stated that there shall be no export to the Goa ports. However we have found several instances where ore is being transported to the Goa port. However they are not using the road these days to transport the ore. We have been keeping a tab on the trains and have found that ore is being transported in them.

We have ample material to show that under the guise of supplying ore to a value added unit ore is being exported. In fact a few weeks back we found that ore had been transported to the Krishnapatnam port for port. I plan to write to the Andhra Pradesh government about this.

My team has to work over time to prevent such activitiy. The Central Empowered Committee’s job is restricted to handing out icences while the day to day monitoring is the job of the forest department and sadly we have seen no action from them.

The job ahead is tough and we need to deal with it and ensure that the property of the state is not clandenstinely looted.

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