The ongoing probe into illegal mining in Karnataka have revealed some startling facts, including the fact that transportation of ore has gone up two fold after a ban was imposed.
Karnataka Lokayukta Justice N Santosh Hegde is probing the issue of illegal mining, which rocked the Parliament a couple of days ago.
Justice Hegde, who is expected to submit his report on illegal mining in another four months, told rediff.com 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 of ore for export," Hegde said.
"Over the past month, some of the miners have started obtaining transport permits under the guise of supplying ore to value added units, then they have been exporting it," he added.
"We have found during the investigation that all hold valid permits to transport ore to value-added units in the state. However, the trail leads elsewhere and not once has the ore reached a value-added unit. Instead it has always been exported illegally," Justice Hedge noted.
Transportation of ore on the west coast, which leads up to the Karwar, Bilikere and Goa ports have come to a complete standstill, he said.
"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," he added.
"On an average, there are 1,000 trucks that ply on this road. This road, a national highway, was never used before for transportation of ore. However, the highway -- which leads up to Ananthpur in Andhra Pradesh -- is now being used and there is excessive activity on it. There is no reason why iron ore laden trucks have to ply on this particular road since there is not a single value-added unit in the stretch," Justice Hegde noted.
"The miners transport ore on the Hagere road to Ananthpur from where it is exported from the east coast," he said.
"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. They are not using the road but transporting them on trains," Hegde said.
"We have ample material to show that under the guise of supplying ore to value-added units, it is being exported. In fact a few weeks back we found that ore had been transported to the Krishnapatnam port for export. I plan to write to the Andhra Pradesh government about this," he said.
"My team has to work overtime to prevent such activity. The Central Empowered Committee's job is restricted to handing out licenses while the day to day monitoring is the job of the forest department, and sadly we have seen no action from them," he also said.
"The job ahead is tough and we need to deal with it and ensure that the property of the state is not clandestinely looted," Justice Hegde added.