How the Lokayukta SIT is cracking down on the illegal iron ore mining in Ballari

Ballari, the bleeding district of Karnataka, has witnessed another blow, as the Lokayukta Special Investigation Team (SIT) has filed charge sheets against 20 people, including former BJP minister Gali Janardhan Reddy, for their role in the illegal extraction and export of iron ore. The SIT has charged them with various offences, such as criminal conspiracy, cheating, forgery, theft, and violation of mining, forest, and environment laws.

The charge sheets are the outcome of the Lokayukta report of 2011, which exposed the colossal loot of iron ore in Ballari by the Reddy brothers and their associates. The report estimated that the state lost Rs 16,085 crore due to illegal mining between 2006 and 2010. It also uncovered the unholy alliance between the political class and the mining and steel industries, who colluded to exploit the rich mineral resources of Ballari.

The SIT was constituted in 2013 by the then Congress government to probe the cases registered by the Lokayukta police based on the report. The SIT has so far filed 55 charge sheets against 216 accused, including former chief minister B S Yeddyurappa, who was acquitted by the court in 2016.

The SIT has also seized assets worth Rs 884 crore from the accused and recovered Rs 1,050 crore as fine from the mining companies. The SIT has also sought permission from the Supreme Court to reopen 15 mining leases that were cancelled by the apex court in 2013.

The illegal mining in Ballari has wreaked havoc on the environment and the people of the district. The district, which was once a green and fertile land, has been transformed into a dusty and desolate wasteland. The mining activities have also affected the health of the people, who suffer from various respiratory and skin diseases.

The SIT has said that it will continue to pursue the cases and bring the culprits to justice. It has also appealed to the public to provide any information or evidence related to the illegal mining in Ballari.

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