Belekeri port scam

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The Belekeri port scam relates to 3.5 million tons of confiscated iron ore that was exported illegally from Belekeri port near Karwar in Karnataka.[1] After Deputy Conservator of Forests R. Gokul seized the ore and the high court refused to permit it to be exported, a large part of it was surreptitiously exported from the port. After persistent protests and public pressure,[2] Karnataka Chief Minister Yeddyurappa, who was balancing political considerations with control of corruption, admitted to an illegal iron-ore export racket at Belekeri Port involving 35 lakh metric tonnes of iron ore.[3][4] It is said that the scam was worth an estimated 60,000 crore rupees (US$12 billion).[5][6]

This iron ore from the Bellary region is alleged to have been illegally mined after paying a minuscule royalty to the government. The major irregularities involve mines in Bellary, including those of Obulapuram Mining Company owned by G. Karunakara Reddy and G. Janardhana Reddy, who were ministers in the Government of Karnataka during B. S. Yeddyurappa's tenure.[7] A report constituted by the LokAyukta uncovered major violations and systemic corruption in mining in Bellary, including in the allowed geography, encroachment of forest land, massive underpayment of state mining royalties relative to the market price of iron ore and systematic starvation of government mining entities.This report was finalized and prepared with inputs from the Income Tax Department's Commissionerate of Central Circle.[8][9][10]

Justice N. Santosh Hegde resigned from the Lokayukta position on 23 June 2010 after an officer (Deputy Conservator of Forests R Gokul) was suspended by order of minister J. Krishna Palemar and he felt powerless to help.[11] He expressed inability to be effective in his anti-corruption mandate owing to a non-cooperative Government of Karnataka.[12] Amid media speculation [13] that the ports minister Krishna Palemar had recommended Gokul's suspension on behalf of some politicians with business interests, Palemar defended his recommendation to suspend Gokul, saying Gokul had failed to attend a meeting, and "this raised suspicions that he too might have had a role to play in this particular incident. Because of this I recommend that he be placed under suspension".[13]

Hegde's resignation sought to underline the helplessness of the advisory post of the Lokayukta in such situations.[14] The resignation has brought considerable public attention on the scam, whose existence the government has also been forced to admit.[15]

Related road damage, accidents and loss of lives[edit]

The lack of effective regulation in the mining and transport of iron ore has adversely impacted road safety in addition to the loss of revenue and environmental denudation due to illegal mining. Overloaded trucks carrying ore have caused hundreds of fatal accidents on the roadways leading to ports such as Belekeri. As many as 114 accidents were reported in 2007, and 174 in 2008.[16] There are also reports of severe damage to the roads in Karnataka, including national highways NH-17, NH-48 and NH-63, near Shimoga.[17][18][19]

Lokayukta Report of July 2011[edit]

.This report was finalized and prepared with inputs from the Income Tax Department's Commissionerate of Central Circle.The chapter 2 of the Lokayukta Report on illegal mining in Karnataka [20][21][22][23] details the method in which the Belekeri Port was the anchor point of export of illegally mined iron ore.[24] The report mentions the involvement of private companies – Shree Mallikarjun Shipping Pvt Ltd (SMSPL), Adani Enterprises Ltd, Salgaonkar Mining Industries Pvt Ltd, Dream Logistics Company India Pvt.Ltd and Raj Mahal Silks in large scale illegal exports of ore.

See also[edit]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Jetties being built illegally at Belekeri Port: NGOs". Chennai, India: The Hindu. 2010-03-04. 
  2. ^ "Karnataka govt faces Hegde heat". The Indian Express. 
  3. ^ "Yeddyurappa admits iron ore racket". Indian Express. 
  4. ^ "Cong 'backs' Hegde and alleges BJP-mafia nexus". India Today. 
  5. ^ Iron ore worth Rs 60,000 crore looted, says Congress
  6. ^ Mining scam in K'taka may top Rs 60,000 crore: Cong - Indian Express
  7. ^ "Reddys have the last laugh, national mines regulator has both hands tied". Indian Express. Retrieved 2010-06-24. 
  8. ^ "Santosh Hegde Interview: ‘Mining Lease Is Used As James Bond’s Gun’". Tehelka. 
  9. ^ "Santosh Hegde Full Interview: ‘Mining Lease Is Used As James Bond’s Gun’". Tehelka. 
  10. ^ "Illegal mining: Lokayukta slams Government". Chennai, India: The Hindu. 2009-07-14. Retrieved 2009-09-07. 
  11. ^ "Hegde: 'I was helpless in protecting an honest officer'". SIFY. 
  12. ^ "Lokayukta indicts BSY govt, quits". Deccan Herald. Archived from the original on 30 June 2010. Retrieved 2010-06-24. 
  13. ^ a b "Palemar says he meant no disrespect to the Lokayukta". Chennai, India: The Hindu. 2010-06-25. 
  14. ^ "I had to go to save Gokul: Lokayukta". Deccan Chronicle. [dead link]
  15. ^ "Yeddyurappa admits iron ore racket". The Indian Express. 
  16. ^ "Ore-laden trucks turn highways into 'accident zones'". The Deccan Herald. 
  17. ^ "Mines of scandal: The Karnataka Lokayukta’s report emphasises that illegal mining has caused severe loss to the State exchequer". Chennai, India: The Hindu. 
  18. ^ "State of the environment report: Mining and Quarrying" (PDF). Department of Ecology and Environment, Govt. of Karnataka. 
  19. ^ "Puttur: Shiradi Ghat Woes – Concreting Proposal Languishing at Delhi". daijiworld. 
  20. ^ "Download Lokayukta report on illegal mining". Deccan Herald. 
  21. ^ "Lokayukta report on illegal mining (PDF)" (PDF). Deccan Herald. 
  22. ^ "Karnataka Lokayukta report on illegal mining". The Hindu. 
  23. ^ "Karnataka Lokayukta report on illegal mining (PDF)" (PDF). The Hindu. 
  24. ^ "Belekeri port was anchor point for irregularities". Deccan Herald.