Bangalore: Assembly proceedings in Karnataka were disrupted for the third day Wednesday with the opposition insisting on a CBI probe into illegal mining and the Chief Minister rejecting the demand once again.
“I apologise to the people of Karnataka that I am not able to conduct the business,” said Speaker K G Bopaiah while adjourning the Assembly till Thursday, as the Congress and Janata Dal-Secular (JD-S) spent the second straight night in the Assembly to press for their demand of a CBI (Central Bureau of Investigation) probe.
Chief Minister B S Yeddyurappa said the Lokayukta was already probing allegations of illegal mining since 2002-03 and has “full powers” to conduct its investigation.
“I have written a letter to the Prime Minister for banning (iron ore) exports. The Lokayukta’s probe into mining incident (illegal mining) is already going on and he has already given an interim report. Let’s wait for the Lokayukta’s report,” Yeddyurappa told CNN-IBN.
Congress leader Siddaramaiah, who is Leader of the Opposition in the Assembly, said the state had lost Rs 20,000 crore because of illegal mining and exports.
Siddaramaiah lost his cool when BJP MLAs stood up and shouted slogans against the Opposition. “He is a ‘goonda’ Chief Minister. He cajoled ruling party MLAs to silence us. Only fascists can do like this,” said Siddaramaiah, who appeared upset when the Speaker announced the House was being being adjourned.
“He (Yeddyurappa) is not handing over the probe to CBI as he is scared of Bellary brothers (Reddy brothers). He wants to save his chair. My inference is that Yeddyurappa has totally colluded with them,” he said. “Even today illegal mining is taking place in Bellary.”
Yeddyurappa responded by asking the Opposition to explain why “previous chief ministers S.M. Krishna (of Congress) and H.D. Deve Gowda did not order a CBI investigation”.
The Reddy brothers, Tourism Minister G Janardhana Reddy, his elder brother and Revenue Minister G Karunakara Reddy, and younger brother and assembly member G. Somashekara Reddy, are accused of large-scale illegal mining in Bellary as well as neighbouring Andhra Pradesh.
The brothers own the Obulapuram Mining Company.
Between 2003 and now, over 30 million tonnes of iron ore has been illegally mined and exported from Karnataka causing a huge revenue loss. Congress and JD-S claim that the illegal mining scam is worth around Rs.60,000 crore (Rs.600 billion).