The Supreme Court today directed the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) to investigate the illegal mining of 5.07 million tonnes of iron ore in 17 months from Karnataka forests.
The court also directed the agency to register an FIR on the siphoning off of the 8 lakh tonnes of iron ore seized by the forest department and its export to various foreign parties by four port service providers.
The apex court also asked the Karnataka government to explain how its agencies failed to check the illicit mining of such a massive scale.
The operations were of such a huge magnitude, involving transportation of the ore to the Belekeri port by using around five lakh trucks over a period of 17 months. The SC questioned the Karnataka government as to how its law enforcing agencies, particularly the CB-CID, were unaware of the illegal mining of such a huge scale in its own forest reserves.
Four port service providers (stevedores) - Adani Enterprises Ltd, Shree Mallikarjun Shipping Pvt Ltd, Salgaoncar Mining Industries Pvt Ltd and Rajmahal Silks – were allowed to export the eight lakh tones of seized iron ore lying with the forest department.
A special forest bench headed by Justice Aftab Alam directed the CBI to lodge FIR and investigate ''thoroughly'' and ''comprehensively'' the illegality involved in the extraction of iron ore from Karnataka forest and their transportation to Belekeri port from where it was exported to foreign companies during the period of 1 January 2009 to 31 May 2010.