PANJIM: The Karnataka Lokayukta report which led to the fall of Karnataka Chief Minister B S Yedyurappa, has mentioned Salgaonkar Mining Industries Private Limited (SMIPL) among four companies, actively involved in “large-scale illegal export of the iron ore from
Karwar’s Belekeri port, causing a huge loss to the government”. The Lokayukta has recommended that “all leases granted to these four companies be cancelled by following due provisions of law and other contemplated action should be taken against them”.
SMIPL is owned by independent MLA from Sanvordem Anil Salgaocar. The Herald tried contacting him for his reactions but he wasn’t available. However, he had in his reported comments to an English daily from Bangalore on August 1 said “People not involved are being dragged into this report by Justice Hegde. We only handled our own cargo at the port. Let them follow the procedure of law and take action against me.”
The list of four including M/s Shree Mallikarjun Shipping Private Ltd (SMSPL), M/s Adani Enterprises Ltd (AEL) and M/s Raj Mahal Silks are together involved in the export of 77 lakhs mt illicit ore from the port.
“It has been seen that 2.30 crore mt of iron ore was exported from Belekeri portbetween 2006-07 and April-May 2010 as against the total permits issued for transportation of iron ore from the port for the same period was 1.26 crore mt,” the report reads.
“As such illegal export in the corresponding period is about 77 lakh mts,” the report of Dr U V Singhstated adding that “majority of illegal transportation of iron ore without any legitimate permits occurred during 2009-10 upto April-May by a process called ‘risk amount’”.
The Lokayukta data revealed that in 2009-10, out of 65.01 lakh mt exported, more than half amounting to 36.50 lakh mt, was illicit. In the months of April-May 2010, out of 15.84 lakh mt exported through Belekeri port, 11.59 lakh mt was illicit
“The illegal export for the 2010-11 (April-May) is record breaking and it is about 11 lakh mt”.
Interestingly, all four companies are also involved in theft of iron ore seized by Forest Department in March 2010. The total quantity stolen amounts to 6.10 lakh mts. A theft case has also been registered against all these firms with Ankola police station, which is under investigation by CID Bangalore.
As stated in Dr Singh’s team report, Belekeri is a fair weather port and government has leased out certain areas within its limit to private companies-SMIPL, SMSPL, AEL and Rajmahal Silks, who are port service providers to this port.
The activities of the Belekeri port are supposed to be controlled by the port authorities under the Karnataka Ports (Landing and Shipping Fees) (Amendment) Rules, 2006 and other related enactments.
The team has observed that the port is not guarded by Coast Guard to monitoring movement of vessels and others activities as found in ports like Mangalore. There is no watch tower and other infrastructure to keep control of illegal activities in the port.
“As such the team has said that Belekeri port should not have been allowed to export iron ore, until security and other arrangements are upgraded,” the report reads.