Reddys into illegal mining, cancel license: court panel

Friday, January 7, 2011

BANGALORE/NEW DELHI - A Supreme Court appointed panel has recommended axing mining license to the Reddy brothers, mining barons and ministers in Karnataka’s Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) government, as they have been found to be into illegal mining.

“Exemplary compensation” should be paid by them for their illegal mining besides having their licenses cancelled, the Centrally Empowered Committee (CEC) has said in its report to the apex court in New Delhi Friday.

The Reddys — Tourism Minister G. Janardhana Reddy and elder brother and Revenue Minister G. Karunakara Reddy — own Obulapuram Mining Co, which owns mines in neighbouring Andhra Pradesh.

The Reddys are accused of illegal mining not only in Andhra Pradesh but also in Karnataka’s iron ore rich Bellary district, their political base.

Bellary, about 300 km from Bangalore, borders Andhra Pradesh.

The Reddys are alleged to have erased boundary marks between the two states in the process of their illegal mining.

Reacting to the panel’s findings and recommendation, Janardhana Reddy told reporters in Bangalore: “It is a motivated report and we will contest it.”

The apex court has given the Reddys and two other mine owners in Karnataka, whose license cancellation has been recommended, 15 days to respond.

“We will file the objection within the given time,” Janardhana Reddy said.

Seizing on the panel’s report, the Congress Friday demanded the immediate resignation of the Reddys.

“The chief minister has been saying that illegal mining allegations against the Reddys were false. Now a Supreme Court appointed committee has found that it is true and recommended license cancellation,” state Congress president G. Parameshwara said in Bangalore.

Chief Minister B.S. Yeddyurappa declined to comment. “I do not know and I do not want to comment,” he said.

Yeddyurappa has uneasy ties with the Reddy brothers, who had rebelled and almost brought his government down in November 2009.

Karnataka Governor H.R. Bhardwaj has also been demanding that Yeddyurappa take action against the Reddys for their alleged illegal mining.

The Reddys, who were small businessmen, have become billionaires after entering into mining 10 years ago.

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