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Issues that forced Hegde to resign
Bangalore, Jun 25 (IANS):
Published on 25 Jun. 2010 11:31 PM IST
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More than 500,000 tonnes of iron ore seized by forest officials in February this year were found missing, apparently exported by 10 companies with forged documents. The raiding party had also seized 40 gunny bags full of forged documents to help export ore illegally causing massive revenue loss. The disappearance of the seized ore, exported from Belekeri port in Karwar in Uttara Kannada district, about 520 km from Bangalore, became public early this month.
J. Krishna Plemar: Minister for Environment, Ports and Fisheries, writes a letter to the chief minister seeking suspension of the deputy conservator for forests, R. Gokul, who seized the ore on order from Lok Ayukta. Reason given by Palemar is that Gokul did not attend a meeting called by him to discuss how the ore went missing. Hegde comes to know of the letter June 21. Gokul approaches him for help to ensure he is not suspended. Hegde pleads helplessness and quits Wednesday.
Yeddyurappa denies Gokul has been suspended. Palemar says he did not seek Gokul’s suspension because he seized the ore but for failing to attend the meeting.
Lok Ayukta history: Set up in 1986, it became highly active under Hegde’s predecessor N. Venkatachala who held the office 2001-06. Unlike Venkatachala, who at times led the raid and went on inspection of government offices and hospitals, Hegde left the job to his officials but held press conferences to give details what the raids found.
Corruption: Widespread. Highly publicized raids conducted by Hegde and Venkatachala, also a retired Supreme Court judge, have shown officials owning property, jewellery, vehicles hugely disproportionate to their known sources of income.
Mining lobby: Powerful, with politicians from all parties involved in iron ore mining in the ore-rich Bellary, one of the most backward districts in the state but which boasts of latest SUVs, choppers and massive mansions owned by mining barons. Hegde submitted nearly a year back a voluminous report on illegal mining in Bellary, though he has not named the powerful Reddy brothers, who are ministers in the Yeddyurappa government. He is unhappy the government has not taken any action on it.
HM asks Hegde
not to quit
Union Home Minister P. Chidambaram Friday telephoned Karnataka Lok Ayukta (ombudsman) N. Santosh Hegde to ask him to reconsider his decision to quit but the latter said he was firm on doing so.
“It was a courtesy call,” Hegde told reporters after the home minister called him.
Hegde had submitted his resignation two days ago frustrated over the state government’s indifference to the anti-corruption panel.
Chidambaram told Hegde his decision to quit would only encourage corrupt elements and hence he should reconsider it.
Hegde, a retired Supreme Court judge, said Chidambaram was a friend and it was a courtesy call.
He said he had been receiving calls from many people, including former Supreme Court judges and chief justices but was firm on leaving the post, a year ahead of his five-year term.
Chidambaram made the call before leaving for Islamabad for the SAARC home ministers conference Saturday.

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