‘My illegal mining report in cold storage’

Bengaluru: Former Lokayukta, Justice N Santosh Hegde says he is afraid his 25,000 page report on irregularities in mining in Ballari and surrounding districts will be put into cold storage if the Congress returns to power in Karnataka. And he is also unhappy with  all three  parties, the Congress, BJP and Janata Dal (Secular) for not taking action on the multi-crore mining scam. Excerpts from an interview: 

Are you disappointed that the BJP has announced state BJP president, B S Yeddyurappa as its Chief Ministerial candidate?
Of course. My report has given  proof of the involvement of Mr Yeddyurappa and others in the mining scam. But the BJP wants to make him the next CM , when risking their lives, a team of dedicated officials worked day and night for months together to dig out evidence in the biggest mining scandal in Ballari and other districts. But the present government has done nothing for five years. It did not bother to even file an appeal when the charges against Mr Yeddyurappa were dropped. 

Do you think the Congress used your report to come to power in Karnataka?
I  am beginning to think so.  Chief Minister Siddaramaiah, who was then leader of the opposition in the Legislative Assembly, went on a padayatra from Bengaluru to Ballari on the issue of illegal mining and came to power. He also declared that all those involved in the scam  would not be spared. But what they did was  promote officials involved in the scam and auction certain top posts. No political party has any moral right to talk about this scam as they are all scratching each other's backs.

Are you unhappy with the government’s handling of the mining report?
You can see for yourself. Two BJP legislators, Anand Singh and  Nagendra, against whom there is evidence of involvement in the mining scam, have not only been admitted into the Congress party, but also given tickets to contest  the coming Assembly poll. My report had mentioned the involvement of three Chief Ministers, N Dharm Singh,  B S Yeddyurappa and  H D Kumaraswamy, with evidence, but nothing came of it.  I didn't know the Congress would use my report for its political gain. Now, I feel that if it comes back to power in the state, my report will go into cold storage.

What should the government have done after charges were dropped against Mr Yeddyurappa?
Firstly, it  should have gone on appeal or an ordinary citizen could have filed a PIL in court on the issue. Both  did not happen. I could not do it as I am a retired judge of the Supreme Court.

Are you campaigning for the Aam Admi Party in Karnataka?
No, I have already disassociated myself from AAP. But I am campaigning for Mr Prithvi Reddy. 

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