Hegde should apologise, says Karunakara Reddy


Bangalore : Karnataka Revenue Minister G. Karunakara Reddy Friday denied any role in illegal mining in the state and sought an apology from the Lokayukta (ombudsman) for defaming him in his report on illegal mining in the state.

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“It is regrettable that ombudsman Justice N. Santosh Hegde recommended to the government to drop me from the cabinet for involvement in illegal mining as one of the directors of the family-run Oballapuram Mining Company (OMC) though I resigned from the post February 27, 2004,” Karunakara told reporters here.

The ombudsman’s explosive final probe report Thursday indicted the powerful Reddy brothers, along with outgoing chief minister B.S. Yeddyurappa and others, for their criminal involvement in the mining scam and causing Rs.16,085 crore revenue loss to the exchequer from 2006 to 2010 in the form of royalty and taxes.

Karunakara’s younger siblings — infrastructure development and tourism minister G. Janaradhana Reddy and lawmaker G. Somashekara Reddy — from the mineral rich Bellary region in north Karnataka are directors of OMC, which operate a massive mining business in the neighbouring Andhra Pradesh state and Karnataka.

Referring to his name being mentioned in chapter eight of the report, Reddy senior said he had submitted documentary proof that he was no longer a director in OMC and had no role in the mining business in the affidavit to the Election Commission in March 2004 for contesting from the Bellary parliamentary constituency.

“I have evidence to prove that I have no role in OMC. It is unfortunate my name has been dragged by the Lokayukta in the damning report without verifying documents or giving me an opportunity to defy,” Reddy asserted.

Karunakara, who was the ruling Bharatiya Janata Party’s (BJP) Lok Sabha member from Bellary (2004-2008) constituency, currently represents Harpanahalli segment in the 13th state legislative assembly from Davanagere district adjacent to Bellary.

Seeking a public apology from Hegde for causing damage to his fair name and reputation across the state and country, Karunakara said he would meet state Governor H.R. Bhardwaj later in the day with documentary evidence to prove his innocence.

“I have been framed in the probe report without any basis. I have no role in OMC after 2004 and not involved in any mining activity leave alone illegal acts.”

Hegde, however, asked him to prove his innocence.

“Let him (Karunakara) come to my office with documents to prove his innocence. I will also show him the documentary evidence our investigative team collected to demonstrate his role in the illegal mining activities of OMC,” Hegde told reporters later.

According to the operative part of the probe report, OMC was involved in multi-crore benami (illegal) transactions, under-invoicing and tax evasion by illegally mining in Bellary-Sandur-Hospet region though it did not have mining lease or permit.