BRS Minister Vemula in Rs 400 Crore Mining Scam: Arvind
HYDERABAD: Telangana state roads and buildings minister Vemula Prashant Reddy is responsible for a Rs 400 crore scam, in which the minister oversaw his department procure crushed stone metal from an illegally operated granite mine owned by his cousin, alleged BJP Nizamabad Lok Sabha MP Arvind Dharmapuri here on Thursday.
Arvind, speaking at a press conference in the state BJP office in Nampally sought an explanation from Prashant Reddy, who is the ruling BRS party MLA from Balkonda, why his department bought crushed stone metal from an allegedly illegally operated granite mine in his constituency at Rs 2000 per cubic meter instead of at the fixed government rate of Rs 800 per cubic meter.
“I thank the Telangana High Court for ordering to stop mining and stone crushing but the BRS minister still needs to come clean on how an illegal operation ran in his constituency for several years, and who all profited from the ill-gotten wealth,” the BJP MP, who defeated Chief Minister K. Chandrashekar Rao’s daughter K. Kavitha in the last LS elections, demanded to know.
The mining unit was illegal since the Pollution Control Board had made it clear that the unit had never received environmental clearance and the company had over Rs 65 lakh electricity dues, Mr Dharamapuri Arvind explained.
It would seem that the BRS minister ensured quarry operators were paid Rs 400 crore, way over the government price, to benefit a first cousin and his partners, Arvind alleged.
Arvind said that a quarry in Battapur village of Yergantla mandal in Nizamabad district falling in Prashant Reddy’s constituency was leased to one K.V. Srikant, and Geostone Industries, represented by Vamsi Reddy.
“The quarry and a stone crusher unit operated for five years without environmental clearances, resulting in destruction of a reserve forest located adjacent to it. The permit for the quarry was for 9,280 cubic meters of rock but almost 20 lakh cubic meters of stone was excavated and crushed. The resulting stone metal was sold to R&B department at inflated rates, creating a big scam gain for private individuals, at the behest of a minister, and causing losses to state exchequer,” Arvind said.
Arvind further said that as per law, for any illegal excavation of the rock, the guilty operator must pay a fine of Rs 96 crore to the state government. Further, the penal seigniorage works out to Rs 57.60 crore, totalling to a combined fine due of Rs 153.60 crore.
“If the polluter pays the principle applied as per Supreme Court guidelines, this penalty alone would be a minimum of Rs 100 crore, but can go up to Rs 500 crore. This means, the company being shielded by minister Prashant Reddy will need to pay a total of anywhere between Rs 263.60 crore and Rs 653.60 crore as penalties alone. Minister Prashant Reddy must explain why no action was taken against a company that profited off a department he heads,” Arvind demanded.