CBI gets cracking on illegal iron ore mining scam in Karnataka

The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) on Saturday carried out searches at the premises of associates of jailed mining kingpin Gali Janardhana Reddy, a former minister in the BJP government in Karnataka, in connection with the illegal iron ore export scam.

The agency also registered five cases in connection with the massive scam worth Rs2,500 crore. The Supreme Court had earlier directed the CBI to probe the illegal mining of 5.07 million tonnes of iron from the forests of Karnataka and their export from Belekeri port.

On Saturday, a 10-member team of the agency searched the houses of several aides of the jailed former minister across 17 locations in Bangalore, Karware, Hospet and Goa.

The iron ore that was mined illegally from the forests were transported in half a million truck consignments to Belekeri port between January 2009 and May 2010 and exported to countries including China and Pakistan.

The controversial Reddy, who was close to the BJP's Sushma Swaraj, the leader of the opposition in the Lok Sabha, was arrested in September 2011 by the CBI for being involved in the illegal mining of iron ore and exporting them.

Reddy became close to several BJP leaders in 1999 when Swaraj contested the parliamentary elections from Bellary constituency in Karnataka, opposing Sonia Gandhi of the Congress. His fortunes – and those of his brothers – rose after he helped in the formation of the first BJP government in Karnataka and was inducted as a minister.