Ordering a CBI probe into illegal extraction of 50.7 lakh metric tonnes of iron ore in 17 months from Karnataka forests,the Supreme Court today asked the state government how its agencies were unaware of the illicit mining on a massive scale going on in the state.
The court also directed the agency to register an FIR and investigate as to how around 8 lakh MT iron ore seized by the forest department were allowed to be exported to various foreign companies from the Belekeri port,allegedly by four Port Service Providers (stevedores) Adani Enterprises Ltd,Shree Mallikarjun Shipping Pvt Ltd,Salgaoncar Mining Industries Pvt Ltd and Rajmahal Silks.
It also questioned the Karnataka government as to how its law enforcing agencies,particularly the CB-CID,were unaware of the illegal mining on such a huge scale in its own forest reserves and the transportation of minerals to the Belekeri port by using around five lakh trucks over a period of 17 months.
A special forest bench headed by Justice Aftab Alam directed the CBI to lodge FIR and investigate thoroughly and comprehensively the illegality involved in the extraction of iron ore from Karnataka forest and their transportation to Belekeri port from where it was exported to foreign companies during the period of January 1,2009 to May 31,2010.
It also asked the CBI to conduct preliminary inquiry on the basis of the two reports of the Central Empowered Committee which recommended in depth investigation of the entire matter and submit its report within six weeks.
The bench also said no other court in the country will entertain any plea relating to the case. During the hearing,the bench said CBI can also take custodial interrogation.