Rs.30,000 crore limestone mining scam exposed in Gujarat

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District Collector at Porbandar Mr. Dinesh Patel filed an affidavit before the Gujarat High Court on Monday in response to a PIL that alleges a limestone mining scam to the tune of Rs.10,000 crore is currently operating in Gujarat, involving the Gujarat Water Resources Minister Mr. Babu Bokhiria. The PIL was filed by one Mr. Dilip Chauhan back in 2013.

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The district collector has also stated officially that there was extensive violation of the law and that the images and documentation provided in the petition against the mining scam were accurate.

A total of Rs.150 crore is being recovered by the district collector from 12 companies and individuals, because the government established that the revenue recoverable from the scam is around Rs.252 crore. However, advocate B M Mangukiya who represents the petition believes the value of the scam can be conservatively pegged at Rs.30,000 crore because a total area of over 20 sq km at Adityana near Porbandar has been excavated from a depth of 10 meters to a depth of 30 meters for illegal limestone mining.

The state government announced in an affidavit that even the deflated number of Rs.252 crore will not be recoverable, as the accused parties took the matter to the appellate authority at the Centre, which ordered the matter be taken back for reconsideration.

A collection order for Rs.49.22 crore has been issued to a company in which Bokhiria and his family have shares, called Mangal Minerals. Collection orders were also issued to alleged gangster Bhima Dula Odedara for Rs.30.02 crore, Paras Odedara for Rs.9 crore, Babu Joshi for Rs.16.22 crore, and Prakash Minerals for Rs.37 crore. The recovery value was calculated considering Rs.315 to be the value of one metric tonne of mineral.

Although recovery orders have been issued and the scam brought to light, many close to the case feel that the government cannot stop the illegal activity and that it is ignoring the massive scale of the scam. They feel that issuing recovery orders will, at best, slow down the illegal mining temporarily. The scam was first brought to light in 2006.

Previous cases and arrests

Previously, in 2006, Umesh Bhavsar, the Manager of Saurashtra Chemical Company, filed an official complaint against Bokhiria, alleged gangster Bhima Dula Odedara, his son Lakshman Dula Odedara and one Bharat Odedara accusing them of illegally mining limestone on company land.

Following the complaint, Bokhiria was arrested in 2007 at the city airport, but fled out of the country and was declared an absconder. The High Court later released Bokhiria on bail.

In December, 2012, Bokhiria contested the elections and won, beating out state Congress President Arjun Modhwadia. Bokhiria was then made cabinet minister under the Modi-led government.

In June, 2013, Bokhiria was sentenced to 3 years in jail for the illegal limestone mining case registered by Umesh Bhavsar in 2006.

Now, a bench headed by Justice A.Y. Kogje and Justice A.S. Dave will hear the matter on Tuesday.

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