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Jindals accused of mining gold in name of iron ore

There is trouble in the offing for Congress governments in Rajasthan and at the Centre. Rajasthan High Court has taken note of what is alleged to be a multi-billion crore rupee scam involving the companies associated with party MP Naveen Jindal.

The court, earlier this week, issued notices on a public interest litigation asking the Jindal Group and the Rajasthan government why it should not stop mining activity in the Bhilwara area of the state and order a CBI inquiry into the matter. The court has also asked why it should not cancel mining lease given to the companies of Jindal group and order a global bidding for allocation of leasing rights.

Though the lease was given during the time of the BJP government in the state, the Congress government allowed the lease to continue despite prima facie irregularities in its allocation, which is now being examined by HC.

The public interest litigation filed by a group of advocates claim that mining rights were given to ‘excavate iron ore’ to private companies in a ‘hush-hush manner’ which could have caused a loss of Rs 3,40,000 crore to the exchequer as the area is believed to be pregnant with gold and silver and not just iron ore.

The petition claims that a survey of the area was done under a Deputy Director-General of Geological Survey of India (GSI) RS Goyal between 2001-05 who had found the area to be rich in gold and silver in addition to iron ore. ‘It is submitted that Goyal had prepared a report about the discovery of gold brackets in the area and the said report, instead of being laid before the concerned authorities of GSI and the Ministry of Mining, was  sold to the Jindal SAW Ltd, JSPL at the instance of MP Naveen Jindal,’ says the petition.

In their plea, they said, ‘Submitting with proof obtained under RTI Act that the private respondents (Jindal and his companies) have engaged themselves in smuggling of gold and silver and other precious minerals and metals pretending that they are actually transporting iron ore for the purpose of sampling to their own plant in Gujarat.’ The information received by the petitioners reveals that in year 2011-12 alone the respondents transported 622626.800 tonne of excavated mineral/metal.

The petition claims that the state government never issued any public notice of auction or called for application by making wider publicity. The petition alleges that even if the policy of first come, first serve was followed there were 10 applicants in the queue before the Jindals came onto the scene in 2005.

It has been pointed out by the petitioners that Jindal Steel Limited was given preferential treatment despite having no experience of mining activity.

‘JSL was not holding any mine in the country and was not having any experience of mining in the country. This fact was admitted by the company in an affidavit sworn in by Sunil Jain, the company secretary of the respondent mining lease holder,’ claims the petition.
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