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A Supreme Court appointed panel looking into illegal mining in Karnataka has prima facie found that former chief minister B.S. Yeddyurappa and his close relatives, including sons B.Y. Vijendra and B.Y. Raghavendra, had illegally denotified land and made “windfall profits". The Central Empowered Committee (CEC) has sought a probe by the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) into the matter.

The apex court’s forest bench, which was hearing the CEC on a related issue concerning the ecological restoration of illegally mined land, did not immediately take up the CEC’s report for consideration since another petition on the matter is pending before the court.

The CEC report dated 20th April said: “Prima facie the said land was de-notified from acquisition not on the ground of being suitable for development or not the ground of any public interest but for the purpose of private gains to the close relatives of the then chief minister."

According to CEC, the state government denotified 1.12 acres of land near Bangalore. This was acquired by Yeddyruappa’s sons for 0.40 crore and subsequently sold to South West Mining Ltd, a Jindal company, for 20 crore. A donation of 20 crore was also received by Prerana Education Society (owned by Yeddyurappa’s relatives) from South West Mining Ltd.

CEC said this report dealt only with Yeddyurappa’s role in connection with the denotification of land and subsequent sale for profits.

More reports are expected to be filed on the issues concerning illegal export of ore from the Belekeri port; exports from Krishnapatnam and Chennai ports after these were banned by the state of Karnataka; and transfer of senior police officers on deputation to Karnataka’s Lokayukta.

Meanwhile, BJP declined to comment on the CEC report on Friday.

Party spokesperson Rajiv Pratap Rudy said they would have to study the CEC report before reacting, pointing out that the Karnataka high court had ruled against the Lokayukta investigation of Yeddyurappa.

However, other party members said on condition of anonymity that the development would offer respite to the party since Yeddyurappa was keen on being reinstated as chief minister, a move the BJP high command has staunchly resisted.

The land denotification scandal caused public outrage last year and Yeddyurappa subsequently tendered his resignation from the post of chief minister in July.

Appu Esthose Suresh contributed to this report.

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‘Mining only after R&R implementation’

By Nikhil Kanekal

New Delhi: The Supreme Court will allow the resumption of iron ore and manganese mining in Karnataka only after the relief and reclamation (R&R) plans for each mining lease are prepared and implemented, according to arguments at a hearing on Friday.

The Central Empowered Committee (CEC) told the court’s forest bench that it was not ready to allow any other agency besides the Indian Council for Forestry Research and Education to prepare the R&R plans, as was being sought by some mining companies.

There are 20 mining leases covering 50 acres that have little or no violations (Category A mines) and 29 mining leases with a higher proportion of illegalities (Category B mines), for which R&R plans will be prepared within two months, CEC said. The court said only Category A mines will be allowed to resume mining. However, it will likely be a few months before this happens, according to the CEC report and its officials. The court also clarified that mining could not be allowed to resume in “unbroken forest areas". The ministry of environment and forests was also directed to “revisit" the environment clearances given to Category A mines and ensure that they are in conformity with the R&R plans.

CEC also recommended to the court that mining in seven leases along the Karnataka-Andhra Pradesh border not be allowed until the inter-state boundary issue is resolved and properly demarcated. On Friday, the court said iron ore lying in stockyards could e-auctioned by a specially appointed monitoring committee, on condition that mining companies were reimbursed only for the ore that was legally mined. About 505,000 million tonnes (mt) of iron ore is lying at cancelled stock yards in Bellary district, according to CEC’s findings. Similarly, 27,000 mt is available in Tumkur district.

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