Bellary, Aug 16, 2013:The Department of Mines and Geology recently confiscated large quantities of iron ore illegally hidden in a stockyard near Siddapur village in Sandur taluk. The ore belongs to Swastik Nagaraj of Hospet, a close aide of former minister Janardhana Reddy, presently in the CBI custody.
Speaking to Deccan Herald, Deputy Commissioner Amlan Aditya Biswas said that the stockyard was raided by the officials of the Department of Mines and Geology a few weeks ago and as much as 35,000 tonnes of iron ore hidden in the Fabio Exports Stockyard, spread across 18 acres, was seized.
The officials have been instructed to inspect the 55 illegal stockyards in the district and investigate if ore was hidden in a similar fashion in all these places.
In fact, there is a reference to the illegal stocking of iron ore in the Lokayukta report on illegal mining in Bellary, submitted by Justice N Santosh Hegde. A member of the Central Empowered Committee, Dr U V Singh, had also inspected the stockyards, during his visits to Bellary.
According to sources in the Mines and Geology Department, all those engaged in illegal mining are believed to have stocked ore illegally in stockyards. The recent raids have also raised eyebrows over how the officials of the Mines and Geology Department missed the huge mounds of ore during raids conducted at the same stock yard in 2009. A total of 75,000 tonnes of illegally stocked ore, which was later on sold through an e-tender process, had been seized then. Doubts have also been raised on why there was a delay in announcing the details of the raids.
The CBI has instructed mining officials to gather information on the seized ore and also about the stockyard. A case pertaining to illegal stocking of ore and the violation of rules in seeking permission to begin the Fabio Exports Stockyard is pending before court.