People misled on iron ore export ban, says Hegde

Disputing the BJP government’s claims, Lokayukta Santosh Hegde today insisted that illegal mining and illegal export of iron ore were still going on in Karnataka. “Illegal mining and illegal exports are still on. Earlier it was going through West Coast and now it is being carried through East Coast,” Hegde said at a function here.

Asked to comment on the claims by Chief Minister B S Yeddyurappa that he has banned exports and checked illegal mining, Hegde retorted, “Illegal mining and illegal exports are still going on. Six crore people have been fooled.”

He would submit the final report on illegal mining this month end, Hegde said at a function where he released a documentary on bears of Bellary sanctuary affected by mining operations. “Essentially, earlier exports were done from Mangalore port, Karwar, Bilikere and Goa. There are some restrictions now from these areas. But iron ore is going now through Hagari border, via Andhra Pradesh, Vizag, Kakinada and Krishnapatnam,” he said.

Hegde said it was he who had suggested ban on iron ore export in his report submitted to the state government in December 2008 as the royalty earned from it was meagre compared to the profits made by mining owners. While mines owners paid Rs 27 per tonne of 64 FE grade and Rs 17 for lower grade iron ore, they sold it for Rs 5,000 to Rs 6,000 per ton, he said.

Meanwhile, Hegde who is also one of the members of the Joint Committee for drafting Jan Lokpal bill, alleged the Government was ‘preventing’ the drafting of a strong anti-corruption Bill.

Asked about civil rights activist Anna Hazare’s statement his fight was not against the government, but against the system, Justice Hegde said on the sidelines of a function here that now, “there has to be a fight against the Government itself” as it was “preventing” drafting of the Bill.

“I don’t know in what context Anna Hazare has made that statement. Unfortunately, who is preventing the drafting committee... It is the government,” he said. He said the Jan Lokpal bill drafting committee would meet on June 15 and 16 to discuss issues related to the Bill.

Following the forceful eviction of Baba Ramdev and his supporters earlier this week from an indefinite hunger strike at Delhi’s Ramlila ground, Justice Hegde had said the police action was a violation of “fundamental rights of citizens” and said it “brought back memories” of the Emergency.

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