Karnataka CM announces inquiry into illegal mining
Fending off Opposition attacks on him on a bribery charge, Karnataka Chief Minister H D Kumaraswamy today announced in the state Assembly an “impartial inquiry” into illegal mining and declared that the government was willing to ban the mining itself if the legislature plumped for it.
Winding up a marathon debate in the Assembly, he rejected a strong demand by the Congress for a CBI probe into the charge by an influential BJP legislator, Janardhan Reddy, that Rs 150 crore was collected in the name of chief minister from mine owners in Bellary district.
Asserting that not even a single mining lease had been issued ever since the JDS-BJP coalition government came to power, he sought to turn the tables on the Congress, pointing out to alleged irregularities in mining during their rule.
“When not even a single mining lease had been issued by me, let them say from where I can get Rs 150 crore,” he challenged the Congress members, who asked the chief minister to resign and order a CBI probe.
Reddy, a BJP MLC, had initially alleged that Rs 150 crore was collected by the chief minister but later did a volte-face saying he only meant that a “daylight robbery is being committed in the name of the chief minister”.
Kumaraswamy said Reddy had not provided any information on his charge and came down heavily on the Congress for clinging on to his allegation “without any basis and an iota of truth” to attack him personally aiming at his character assassination.
He said he was ready to ban mining, if the legislature was inclined towards it, and would write to Prime Minister Manmohan Singh in this regard as some issues had to be cleared at the Central level.