Tuesday, September 18, 2012

CBI launches search at iron ore exporters, miners

A week after the Supreme Court ordered for an inquiry by Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) into the alleged illegal export of 5 million metric tonnes of iron ore from Belekeri port in Karnataka, the CBI officials have conducted search operations on several iron ore exporters and mining firms at various firms in Bangalore, Karwar, Hospet and Goa.

The CBI officials had filed first information report (FIR) on late Friday and the search operations began in the early hours on Saturday.

The Anti Corruption Bureau (ACB) of CBI, Bangalore has registered five regular cases and one preliminary enquiry against various firms and exporters in connection with illegally excavated iron ore totaling five million tonnes and subsequent export from Belekeri Port in Karnataka.

According to CBI official sources, 15 teams of CBI officials began search operations at 17 places including residences and offices of several exporters. However, no arrests have been made so far. However, the officials did not disclose the names of these firms.

Hearing on the writ petition (civil) No. 562/2009, the Supreme Court on September 7, 2012, had ordered for detailed inquiry on the alleged export of 5 million metric tonnes of iron ore worth Rs 2,500 crore between January 1, 2009 to May 31, 2010 from several minor ports including Belekeri, a designated port for export of iron ore in Karnataka.

According to the Central Empowered Committee (CEC) of Supreme Court, as many as 73 exporters have exported as much as five million tonnes of iron ore illegally from the ports in Karnataka between January 2009 and May 2010. During the period, the state government had issued mineral dispatch permits (MDPs) for only about 3.82 million tonnes for export from the Belekeri port in Karnataka.

“The transportation of such a huge quantity of iron ore involving over 500,000 truck trips could not have been possible without the knowledge and active connivance of the officers and other public servants concerned,” CEC report had said.

The CEC has indicted four leading exporters such as ILC Industries Limited (986,000 tonnes), Dream Logistics Company (India) Pvt Limited (916,000 tonnes), S B Logistics (774,000 tonnes) and Shree Mallikarjuna Shipping Pvt Ltd (723,000 tonnes). The ore was exported from the Belekeri port.

It may be noted that of the 5 million tonnes of iron ore illegally exported, over 800,000 tonnes were actually under orders of seizure by the Forest Department and the Court before it was exported in violation of the orders.

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