The Bellary mining scam today is estimated at around Rs 7000 crore and it is one of the biggest scams that the country has ever seen. While at the start of the investigation, the Central Bureau of Investigation estimated the scam to be around Rs 5000 crore, it appears that the numbers are only growing with the investigation progressing.
The latest on the investigation is by the Enforcement Directorate which has attached shares belonging to Janardhan Reddy, the former minister of Karnataka. The share value has been totaled at Rs 884 crore and the same has been attached under the Prevention of Money Laundering Act. During the investigations, the ED found that there were 884130000 shares in all and each had the value of Rs 10 amounting to Rs 884.13 crore. All these shares belonged to the Brahmani Industries Limited and were held by the Obulapuram Mining Company which belonged to Janardhan Reddy and his associates.
The CBI says that so far it has been found that the ore that has been exported is around 65 lakh tones. Each ton was exported at 150 US dollars and this amounts to Rs 5000 crore. In addition to this shares, gold, property and other articles too have been seized which amounts to approximately another Rs 2000 crore.
Janardhan Reddy who is behind bars has been continuously denied bail ever since the CBI took him into custody. CBI sources tell rediff.com that there is still a long way to go for the investigations and with each passing day a new revealation comes to light. The case against Reddy is water tight and they have managed to nail the mining baron from each corner.
As per the records of the Obulapuram Mining Company, around 29 lakh metric tones of iron ore was mined from the AGK mine. The OMC used the lease of the 68.5 hectare mining lease which was granted to the AGK mine in Andhra Pradesh to carry out these actions. In the year 2010, the quality of the iron ore in these permits had been shown at 65 per cent Ferrous content. The CBI took the help of the National Mineral Development Corporation and also the Indian Bureau which in turn collected the ore. After analysis it was found that the ore was of low and not commercial grade. Further it was also found that the there was no excavation of 29 lakh tones of ore as it was claimed by the accused. Based on the satellite imagery it was visible that there was no major activity between the years 2007 and 2010. This was an indicator that no mining activity had been carried out as per the mining plan and only 40000 tonnes of ore was excavated within the permissible lease boundary and the rest had been excavated from outside the lease area.
In addition to this the CBI also had the evidence which was given to them by the neighbouring mine owners and truck drivers. In short, Reddy had used the mining lease granted to him by the Andhra Pradesh government to carry out mining activities in Karnataka.
The battle ahead for Janardhan Reddy is a tough one. He has a host of charges against him. The charges include
120-B of the Indian Penal Code (criminal conspiracy). He had conspired with officials to get lease.
He cheated the government by exporting illegal iron ore. He had got a permit from Andhra Pradesh but used it to lease in Karnataka and hence has been booked under Section 420 of the IPC.
He has also been booked under Section 468 and 471 for using forged documents to carry out mining.
He has committed criminal breach of trust under Section 409
In addition to this he has also been booked under Section 13(2) of the Prevention to Corruption Act.
Will contest- However these host of charges has not deterred Reddy from staying active in politics. Although he and his brothers are officially still part of the Bharatiya Janata Party, by the time it is election time in Karnataka, they would all be part of the BSR Congress party which was launched by their blue eyed boy Sriramulu. Janardhan Reddy who has been a Member of the Legislative Council will this time around contest the elections even if he is behind bars at that time. He would contest the elections from Bellary on a BSR Congress ticket and his supporters swear that they would move heaven and earth to ensure his victory. The Reddy brothers and Sriramulu would be locked in a direct battle against the BJP and they would try and ensure that their former party is defeated. The Reddys have controlled Bellary for nearly a decade and the forthcoming elections would be a testing ground for them. Sriramulu who had faced a by election after he quit the party won by a huge margin a year back and his main opponent from the BJP even had lost his deposit.
The Reddys are however mum about their future plans. Although the BSR Congress expects at least 10 seats, political observers say a more realistic number would be 5. With regard to an alliance, the BSR Congress is more likely to go with the Congress and this would be a post poll alliance.