Illegal mining: Bellary now has max number of gun licenses

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Illegal Mining
Bangalore, Sept 26: With the mining district of Bellary becoming infamous for the illegal mining activities by the Reddy Brothers, the district has bagged another unique distinction in its name. District authorities have claimed that a record number of gun licenses were issued during the period the illegal mining was at its peak.

Records have revealed that the licenses went to those involved in the illegal mining trade in the district. The Reddy Brothers especially former Karnataka Minister Janardhan Reddy has been at the forefront of this arms race.

The data attained from the Deputy Commissioner's office has revealed that a record 54 licenses were given out in the year 2009-'10. The fact was revealed through an Right to Information application. The Lokayukta report on illegal mining stated that the iron ore exports during this period touched 1,27,99,396 metric tonnes. The figures for the year 2008-2009 shows 53,55,660 tonnes were exported.

A member of the Lokayukta team probing the illegal mining scam said, "The majority of gun licences issued from the year 2006-07 when illegal mining began its climb to peak at the 2009-10 figures were issued to people involved in the mining business in some way or the other. The licences in the two years between 2008 and 2010 went largely to what is now identified as the mining mafia."

It has also been reported that many of the licenses were used by people who used to run front companies of the Reddy's. The Lokayukta had earlier revealed stunning facts that said that a whooping 2,98,60,647 tonnes of iron ore was exported without adequate govt permits from 2006-07 to 2009-2010. Exports were briefly banned in July 2010). The losses from these illegal mining was estimated to be Rs 12,228 crore. The losses for the period 2009-10 alone was put at Rs 4,635 crore.

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