Bengaluru: Skeletons tumble out of mining closet

Bengaluru: With the arrest of Mining Secretary Gangaram Baderia, more skeletons have tumbled out of the Janthankal mining scam.

On one hand, people like former super cop Daya Nayak and others tried to get the mining lease renewed, while on the other, letters of the Environment Ministry and the general power of attorney (GPA) of Janthakal Mining Company were forged to lift the ore in Chitradurga district illegally.

The Special Investigation Team, which is probing the mining scandal, has stated that at least 1,17,800 metric tonnes of iron ore were transported out of an abandoned mine between 2007 and 2009, claiming it to be waste material and forging consent letters from the Ministry of Environment and Forest and the company.

Janthakal Mines had extracted iron ore at Hirekambhavadi village, Holalkere taluk, between 1965 and 1985, but had abandoned the dump till 2004. When the price for iron ore in the international market started skyrocketing, the mine suddenly became active.

A complaint in this regard was filed by the Holalkere Range Forest Officer in 2009. It alleged that 1,17,800 MT of iron ore was illegally transported from the area by producing fake papers, including the letter by MoEF, allowing transport of “waste material” from the mined area. Besides, an authorisation letter by mining company owner Vinod Goel was submitted, while another was given to the Karnataka Forest and Environment Department to transport the iron ore. Later, it was proved that all the letters were forged.

In the complaint, only Mr Vinod Goel was made the accused. During the investigation, it was revealed that Mr Goel had paid money through ICICI Bank in two instalments to Mr Baderiya to obtain these permissions. While Rs 10 lakh was deposited into the account of Mr Gagan Badreia, son of Mr Gangadhar Baderiya, whose account was at HDFC Bank, Cauvery Bhavan branch. Another Rs 10 lakh was deposited into an account in the SBI branch in HSR Layout.

SIT sources said that this is a different case pertaining to Janthakal Mining Company, where the investigation was ordered by the Lokayukta and directed by the Supreme Court. The FIR was filed in 2015 after the Supreme Court direction, where only Mr Baderiya and Mr Goel were named the accused.

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