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Karnataka favours blanket ban on iron ore mining

Published by MAC on 2006-07-19

Karnataka favours blanket ban on iron ore mining

Special Correspondent, The Hindu

19th July 2006

Delegation to seek Prime Minister's help to combat the problem

BANGALORE: The Karnataka Government has favoured a blanket ban on mining of iron ore as an offshoot of the bribery charge against Chief Minister H.D. Kumaraswamy.

Mr. Kumaraswamy said in the Legislative Assembly on Tuesday that the Government would impress upon Prime Minister Manmohan Singh to help the State in introducing certain tough measures to combat the growing incidence of unauthorised mining of iron ore.

In a strongly worded reply to the lengthy debate on the charge against him, the Chief Minister said there was no question of yielding to any pressure. The Government was ready to hold an inquiry into all aspects of iron ore mining, including the manner in which mining permits were issued over a period of time particularly from 2003 when the boom in iron ore export began.

Mr. Kumaraswamy put up a bold face despite the direct allegation against him levelled by the BJP MLC Janardhan Reddy that Rs. 150 crore had been collected from the owners of iron ore companies in Bellary district to be paid as bribe to him (Chief Minister). He, however, refrained from replying to repeated questions on whether he would file a criminal case against the BJP legislator or whether he would sue him for defamation.

The Opposition members led by N. Dharam Singh and M. Mallikarjun Kharge demanded a comprehensive investigation by the Central Bureau of Investigation and with the Government refusing to oblige, they walked out at the end of the reply. While the Opposition argued that the CBI was competent to probe the matter as it involved various agencies, the Chief Minister ruled out a role for the CBI as it had failed in some of the cases referred to it by the State. He said the Government was ready to take a delegation to the Prime Minister and also write a detailed letter to Dr. Singh highlighting all aspects of mining, particularly unauthorised mining in the forest tracts of Bellary and adjoining districts.

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