A Special Investigation Team of the Karnataka Lok Ayukta will investigate 137 forest department officials for allegedly receiving illegal iron ore mining related bribes from a close aide of the under trial former Karnataka minister Gali Janardhana Reddy. As many as 37 forest personnel who were bribed by the Reddy aide Karapudi Mahesh are yet to be identified by name. The exercise of identifying the officials and staff of the forest department who allowed the illegal loot of iron ore by a mafia operated by the former minister is part of a recent state government ordered Lokayukta probe into corruption among lower staff in the forest department that enabled iron ore to be smuggled out for exports from 16 districts in the state including the iron ore rich Bellary district between 2009-2011.
The second part of a Lok Ayukta report on illegal mining that was submitted to the state government on July 27, 2011 had stated that 617 government officials took bribes from Karapudi Mahesh to facilitate transportation of 73.99 lakh MT of iron ore extracted illegally from 2009-20011 from 11 different mines valued at Rs 1849.82 crore. According to data gathered by the Lok Ayukta as much as Rs. 2.46 crore was paid to 617 officials in Bellary as bribes in one year by the illegal mining syndicate. Among the 617 officials who were bribed by the mining mafia the forest department formed a key chunk with 137 officials being identified by designations by the Lok Ayukta.
The state government had earlier asked the Principal Chief Conservator of Forest (PCCF) to identify the tainted officials whose designations for the 2009-11 period had been supplied by the Lok Ayukta. The PCCF has now provided the Lok Ayukta SIT definite information of 100 officials but as many as 37 officials remained unidentified. According to the PCCF’s report there were many forest department workers accused of receiving bribes who are of the rank of guards, foresters and watchers making it difficult to pinpoint individuals. The Lok Ayukta police have now been tasked with finding evidence against the officials named by the PCCF’s report and the 37 unidentified officials.
A similar exercise of identifying the officials who were the recipients of bribes is bing carried out the Post and Inland Water Transport Department as well. A committee has been contitued to investigate the officials mentioned in the Lok Ayukta report to enable disciplinary action to be taken against these officials.
📣 The Indian Express is now on Telegram. Click here to join our channel (@indianexpress) and stay updated with the latest headlines