Karnataka to act against corrupt officials in mining scam

Bangalore, June 18 (IANS) Karnataka will soon permit the state ombudsman (Lokayukta) to prosecute senior officials named in the probe report on the multi-crore iron ore mining scam in the state, Chief Minister Siddaramaiah said Tuesday.

"We will sanction permission to the ombudsman to prosecute about 130 officials, including those of IAS and IPS ranks named in the Lokayukta report, which named them for their role in the mining scam," Siddaramaiah told editors of local newspapers and bureau chiefs of news agencies here.

Asserting that the guilty would not be spared, the chief minister said though the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) was probing the mining scam as directed by the Supreme Court, the state government had enough evidence to act against the corrupt officials.

"I have directed the chief secretary and the department of personnel to submit within a week a report with a list of officials who connived with mining barons to loot the state's rich mineral wealth and deprived the exchequer of revenues worth crores of rupees in the form of royalty, taxes and other dues," Siddaramaiah said.

The state anti-corruption institution had investigated the mining scam from 2007 to 2010 and submitted its final report July 27, 2011 under former ombdudsman Justice N. Santosh Hegde, a retired judge of the Supreme Court.

The explosive report led to the resignation of Bharatiya Janata Party's first chief minister B.S. Yeddyaurappa July 31, 2011, as he was indicted along with scores of officials in various departments spanning mining, forests, transport and revenue.

"We are not only for the prosecution of the guilty officials, but also recovering money from them as recommended by the Lokayukta.

"We have promised the people that action will be taken against the guilty, including former ministers and lawmakers who connived with mining firms to indulge in illegal activity and robbing the exchequer of its legitimate dues," Siddaramaiah pointed out.

Commenting on reports in a section of the media Monday on the loss of Rs.2,000 crore to the exchequer in the form of value added tax (VAT) from several mining firms which were also involved in the scam, the chief minister said he would order a probe into the fresh charges of abetment and act against officials of the state commercial tax department if found guilty of negligence in collecting the tax dues.

"I have gone through the media report and will ask the state mining department to look into it. We will investigate the matter," Siddaramaiah added.

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