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K’taka illegal mining issue reaches PM
Published on 14 Jul. 2010 11:39 PM IST
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: Karnataka Governor H.R. Bhardwaj Wednesday evening briefed Prime Minister Manmohan Singh on the illegal mining issue in the state that has paralysed the assembly since Monday with the opposition insisting on a Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) into the alleged multi-billion rupee scandal.
As Bhardwaj, former union law minister, apprised Manmohan Singh in New Delhi, opposition Congress and Janata Dal-Secular (JD-S) legislators held a joint meeting in Bangalore and decided to continue their 24-hour sit-in in the assembly till the Bharatiya Janata Party government agrees to hand over the investigation to the CBI.
“There is no change in our stand. Dharna will continue till our demand is me,” Leader of Opposition in the assembly Siddaramaiah of the Congress told reporters after the meeting.
Chief Minister B.S. Yeddyurappa also stuck to his stand, rejecting the CBI probe and having the scandal investigated by the state Lok Ayukta (ombudsman) N. Santosh Hegde, a retired Supreme Court judge.
Hegde’s resignation June 23 citing government’s indifference to the fight corruption and check illegal mining triggered the present crisis for the two-year-old first BJP government in Karnataka and south India.
Hegde has since withdrawn resignation after an appeal by senior BJP leader L.K. Advani.
Bhardwaj’s meeting with the prime minister was preceded by his discussion on the situation in Karnataka with union Home Minister P. Chidambaram.
The governor had briefed President Pratibha Patil Tuesday. The 25-day assembly session began Jun 28 and is to approve demands for 27 departments and appropriation bills.
Bhardwaj taking the illegal mining issue to the central government has angered BJP central leaders also who have accused him of acting as a Congress “agent” attempting to “destabilise” the party’s first government in south India.
Congress and JD-S legislators spent Wednesday night also in the assembly, their third night stay in the house.
The Reddy brothers, Tourism Minister G Janardhana Reddy, his elder brother and Revenue Minister G Karunakara Reddy, and younger brother and assembly member G. Somashekara Reddy, are accused of large-scale illegal mining in Bellary as well as neighbouring Andhra Pradesh. The brothers own the Obulapuram Mining Company.
Between 2003 and now, over 30 million tonnes of iron ore has been illegally mined and exported from Karnataka causing a huge revenue loss. Congress and JD-S claim that the illegal mining scam is worth around Rs.60,000 crore (Rs.600 billion).

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