‘No mining licence issued during my tenure’
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Last Updated: Monday, December 05, 2011, 00:41
New Delhi: A day after a Lokayukta Court ordered probe against him, External Affairs Minister S M Krishna on Sunday insisted that no mining licence was issued during his tenure as Karnataka Chief Minister and expressed confidence that judiciary would vindicate him.

He said former Karnataka Lokayukta Santosh Hegde had conducted "a very detailed and comprehensive enquiry" into the issue of mining from 1999 to 2010 which also covered his tenure as the Chief Minister and there was no indictment of him "anywhere in the Lokayukta report".

"The fact that Justice Santosh Hegde has gone on record in public only further confirms this," he said in a statement issued here and asserted that there had been no de-reservation of forests "as being incorrectly reported".

"I wish to point out that I never retained the portfolio of Mines and Geology. Further to the best of my knowledge no mining licence was issued during my tenure," Krishna, who was the Chief Minister from 1999 to 2004, said.

Even if such licences were issued this would have been done by the competent authority of the Mines and Geology Department, he said.

Observing that "attempts at character assassination are one of the most despicable of human behavioural patterns", the Minister said he was more than certain that the judiciary would vindicate him and "put to rest once and for all such unholy attempts."

A Lokayukta Special Court had on Saturday ordered Lokayukta police to probe a private complaint against Krishna and two former Chief Ministers -- N Dharam Singh and H D Kumaraswamy, seeking action against them under provisions of prevention of corruption act for allegedly allowing illegal mining for gain.

Stating that the Cabinet sometime in 2003 decided to de-reserve mineral wealth for mining and the Government was fully empowered to take such a decision as per the Minerals Concession Rules, 1960, Krishna said a gazette notification issued pursuant to the Cabinet decision "clearly states that applicants for mining leases have to obtain no objection certificates from the Forest Department".

"When a gazette notification has been issued it is abundantly clear that nothing which has been done in secret," he said.

"....there is no wrongful loss to the Government. Consequently there can be no wrongful gain," the Minister said.

The statement came a day after Lokayukta Judge N K Sudhindra Rao directed Lokayukta ADGP to conduct probe against Krishna along with Dharam Singh and Kumaraswamy and submit its report to him on January 6.

The probe order came on a complaint which alleged that during his tenure as Chief Minister, Krishna had not only sanctioned mining lease on old rates but also de-reserved forest land, despite severe opposition from the department of forest and environment.

"All decisions are policy matters related to the state and no favouritism has been shown to anyone (by Krishna)," the statement said, adding that "all matters pertaining to all issues will be furnished."

"I am given to understand that allegations have been made against me, two other ex-chief ministers and a number of officials. While my legal team will take appropriate action at the appropriate time, I consider it necessary to clarify matters. This is necessary as silence on my part would give rise to speculation," he said.


First Published: Monday, December 05, 2011, 00:41

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