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New Delhi, The Supreme Court today directed the CBI to conduct a probe against illegal mining of iron ore by companies owned by the Reddy brothers in Karnataka.

A special bench comprising Chief Justice S H Kapadia and Justices Aftab Alam and Swatanter Kumar ordered the CBI probe on the basis of the report of the Supreme Court-appointed Central Empowered Committee that there was prima facie evidence of illegal mining.

The mining lease have been effectively transferred to former Karnataka Tourism Minister and Minister in-charge of Bellary district G Janardhana Reddy and G Laxmi Aruna with effect from August 1, 2009, the CEC said.

This, it appears, was done by adopting dubious means to get themselves admitted as new partners and ensuring the retirement of all the existing partners of the said partnership firm.

The report further says, “The CEC is constrained to mention at this stage that the Karnataka Lokayukta has in its report dated July 27, 2011 made scathing observation regarding the series of grave illegalities committed by M/S Associated Mining Company(AMC) and the undue favour shown to it by the officials of Karnataka state.

The Karnataka Forest Department issued transit pass for the transportation of more than half a million tonne of iron ore without the payment of about Rs 192 lakhs of Forest Development Tax, permitted transportation of excess quantity of iron ore against bulk permit, permitted transportation of iron ore even after the expiry of the lease period and payment of royalty from its bank account for the iron ore belonging to another mining lease namely in the name of B R Yogendranath Singh.

The Karnataka Forest Department also permitted the deployment of additional 17 Foresters two days before the expiry of the lease in addition to the Forester already engaged and also permitted misuse of transit passes.

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