The CBI investigation into three cases of illegal mining in Karnataka has called into question the role of government officials responsible for ensuring mining remains a controlled and monitored activity.
The agency has over the last two years arrested 10 senior government officers,including two IAS and three IFS,and raided five an IPS,an IAS and three IFS.
Former additional chief secretary Shamim Banu,a 1977-batch IAS officer who retired last year,was arrested on September 7.
The senior IAS officer is accused of allowing renewal of a lease to Deccan Mining Syndicate (DMS) in 1999 despite a report that the company encroached on mining land belonging to National Mineral Development Corporation (NMDC),causing it losses to the tune of Rs 1,200 crore between 1999 and 2010.
Retired additional chief secretary N Vishwanathan,a 1966-batch IAS officer,was arrested in June this year in the same case. He is accused of enabling encroachment of NMDC land as commerce and industries secretary.
Police inspector Ramakanth Hullar,who allegedly aided DMS in transport of illegal ore,has also been arrested.
IFS officer S Muthiah,forest official Mahesh Patil and mining official S P Raju have been arrested,among others,in the case against Associated Mining Company of former minister G Janardhan Reddy.
The company allegedly secured an illegal lease transfer and forced its way into 16 other lease areas.
IFS officer Manoj Shukla,forest officials Narendra Hittalmakki,C G Nayak and port officer Captain C Swamy have been arrested in the Belekeri illegal exports and transport of iron ore case.
CBI also raided former IAS officer M E Shivalingamurthy,IFS officers S Nagaraj,Srinivas and IPS officer Seemanth Kumar Singh.
The arrests come even as Karnataka ponders action against 787 government officials accused in a 2010
report of the Lokayukta of aiding,directly or indirectly,acquisition of iron ore in Bellary and its smuggling out of the country.
A panel headed by chief secretary S V Ranganath has been tasked by the Congress government with acting on recommendations of the Lokayukta.
Meanwhile,the IAS officers association in Karnataka held a meeting to express solidarity with Shamim Banu.
We have not adopted a resolution. We have only expressed solidarity with our former colleague. We have faith the judiciary will provide justice. We are willing to give our colleague moral,financial and legal support to fight her case. She had a spotless career and we are sure she will come out clean, additional chief secretary Kaushik Mukherjee,who is secretary of the association,said.
The Lokayukta report says illegal iron ore mining caused the state exchequer a loss of Rs 12,228 crore from 2006 to 2010,including Rs 4,635 crore during 2009-10 when the activity was at its peak.