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Rebel Reddy's Andhra links exposed

Rebel Reddy's Andhra links exposed

Author: Omer Farooq
Publication: The Pioneer
Date: November 16, 2009
URL: http://www.dailypioneer.com/216140/Rebel-Reddy's-Andhra-links-exposed.html

Troubles are piling up for powerful mine baron and Karnataka's BJP Minister Galli Janardhana Reddy over the alleged mining scam as fresh facts are coming out with each passing day. Janardhana Reddy, one of the most powerful and influential mine owners in Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh, is facing a wide range of allegations, including illegal mining, overstepping the leased land into other areas, manipulating the border between the two neighbouring States and plundering the reserve forest area.

While Opposition parties - TDP, CPI, CPI(M) and Lok Satta - have decided to intensify their protest against "mining mafia" and take the issue to the people with State-wide demonstrations on Monday, Janardhana Reddy has charged that the Opposition was trying to target him and Jaganmohan Reddy after the death of YS Rajasekhara Reddy. Obviously, Andhra Pradesh is going to see the most intense battle over its mineral wealth in the days to come.

The story of powerful Reddy brothers, who originally hail from the Rayalaseema region of Andhra Pradesh, began in 2001 when their two family-owned companies - Obulapuram Mining Company and Anantapur Mining Corporation - leased three mines measuring 25.98 hectares, 39.5 hectares, and 68.5 hectares in Obulapuram and H Siddapuram villages of Anantapur district, adjoining Bellary.

Although the Opposition parties have been raising allegations of irregularities against Reddy brothers over the last few years, with a close family friend Rajasekhara Reddy at the helm of affairs, the parties could not make much headway in their demand for a thorough probe and action against what they called "mining mafia".

In 2006, a survey committee constituted by YSR gave a clean chit to OMC. But the issue is back in focus now with Anantapur district forest officer Kallol Biswas issuing show-cause notices to OMC and ordering it to suspend the mining operation.

However, the company has not yet complied with these notices and the State Government has sent yet another three-member committee of forest officials to look into the charges.

Janardhana Reddy commands formidable political clout and influence in both Karnataka and AP. While he and his brother Revenue Minister Karunakara Reddy had a stranglehold over the BJP Government in Karnataka, they were also very close to late Chief Minister YSR and his family. This has prompted the main Opposition Telugu Desam Party to allege that YSR family, especially his son YS Jaganmohan Reddy, has business interests in the mining operations of Janardhana Reddy. Also there are allegations that Janardhana Reddy had made investments into the media company owned by Jagan.

The Opposition has also pointed out that OMC managing director Srinivasulu Reddy was a distant relative of YSR. Similarly, Ramachandra Reddy, the joint managing director of Brahmini Industries of Janardhana Reddy, was the Congress MLA from Rayadurg in Anantapur.

Questions have also been raised about another company - Red Gold - which has been given 50 per cent stake in one of the mines of OMC. The company, which belongs to Janardhana Reddy's nephew Krishna Reddy and Srinivasulu Reddy's younger brother Venkatram Reddy owns 50 per cent of the 68.5 hectares of mine at Obulapuram village. He also gave 10 per cent stake to another person Ramasubba Reddy, a former official of Andhra Pradesh Mineral Development Corporation on the ground that the company needs the services of an expert.

Another serious question was how OMC can export the iron ore mined from Obulapuram when it was supposed to be a captive mine meant for the proposed Brahmini Steel plant coming up in YSR's home district Kadapa. The company has already mined one million-tonne ore from this mine and exported it. Janardhana Reddy has defended it saying the proceeds from the mine were invested to the tune of Rs 1,500 crore in setting up the plant which will go on stream in October 2010.

Janardhana Reddy has also admitted that he was setting up the steel plant on the advice of YSR to create thousands of jobs for the people in the region. The lease of Obulapuram mine ends in 2017.

The serious allegations that OMC had encroached other areas exceeding the limit of the leased mines has attracted the attention of the Central Empowered Committee on Environment and Forests, constituted by the Supreme Court to save forest and wildlife. OMC is also facing the charges of cutting down the reserve forest to lay roads to connect the mines both in Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh.

In the latest development, CEC has contacted the Chief Conservator of Forests in Andhra Pradesh and sought all the details and documents about OMC. In its communication to the Chief Conservator of Forests, the CEC has said prima facie there were discrepancies in the sketches of mines approved for lease.

The CEC has asked State officials to send the show-cause notice issued to OMC by Anantapur district forest officer Kallol Biswas along with other documents, the sketch maps prepared by the forest department and various other documents. The CEC members were likely to visit the mining areas of Anantapur district soon for an on-the-spot assessment.

Opposition parties have been alleging that all the unsavoury activities, encroachments and illegal mining were known to the Congress Government but it had bowed to the mining mafia and refused to take action against them. Leader of Opposition N Chandrababu Naidu alleged that the State had suffered a loss of Rs 10,000 crore due to the "looting" of the mineral assets of the State.

Meanwhile, Janardhana Reddy has strongly denied any wrongdoing and said that no mine owner can export minerals unless he pays all taxes on each and every tonne by completing all the records.

Rosaiah promises action

PNS | Hyderabad: With four Opposition parties mounting pressure on the Andhra Pradesh Government for cancellation of mining lease of Obulapuram Mining Company of Janardhana Reddy, Chief Minister K Rosaiah has assured action in accordance with the law, adding that there is no question of succumbing to any pressure or shielding anyone on the issue.

A delegation of Opposition leaders, N Chandrababu Naidu (TDP),

BV Raghavulu (CPI-M), K Narayana (CPI) and Jayprakash Narayan (Lok Satta), met the CM at his residence on Sunday morning. They submitted a memorandum demanding immediate cancellation of lease of the mines and ordering a probe into the alleged illegal activities of the company.

The Opposition leaders met the CM a day before the parties' proposed protest demonstrations in all district headquarters on Monday. The four parties were also organising a road blockade between the Obulapuram mines and Krishnapatnam port in Nellore district from where the iron ore is exported by OMC.

In an official statement, Rosaiah said that even before the Opposition leaders making a representation to him he had held three meetings with the officials and reviewed the situation. He said that the Government will take a decision after proper consideration of the issue.

Chandrababu Naidu expressed his dissatisfaction over the response of the Chief Minister and wanted to know how many more months will be required for the Government to consider the issue when all the facts were before it.

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