The Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) has raided 25 places in Andhra Pradesh's Guntur district and Hyderabad, in connection with an alleged illegal limestone mining case involving former Gurazala MLA Yarapathineni Srinivas Rao and associates on Thursday.
"During searches, several incriminating documents, mobile phones, material objects and cash have been recovered," said a CBI statement. In addition to Rao (55), a former Telugu Desam Party (TDP) MLA, CBI has also raided 17 more people connected with the case. CBI took up 17 illegal mining cases in pursuance of the notification issued by the state government and also Department of Personnel and Training (DoPT).
"CBI has taken over 17 cases of illegal limestone mining from CBCID, Andhra Pradesh, and registered a case on August 26, 2020, against 17 accused," said the statement. According to the premier investigation agency, Rao and the other accused fraudulently conducted illegal and unauthorized mining, quarrying and transportation of limestone.
CBI officials said that the illegal mining occurred in Konanki village of Piduguralla Mandal and Kesanupalli and Nadikudi Villages of Dachepalli Mandal, Guntur District for several years.
"And thereby caused revenue loss to the government and other licensed lease holders, and also exploited the natural resources," the statement highlighted.
The alleged illegal mining, running into lakhs of tonnes of limestone, occurred between 2014 and 2018 during the erstwhile Telugu Desam Party (TDP) government, resulting in large scale erosion of natural resources and a massive loss to the government.
"In order to ascertain the quantum of unauthorized and illegal mining, CBI is also conducting volumetric analysis by using satellite imagery. Investigation is continuing," the CBI note added.
In 2018, then opposition YSRCP alleged that the Guntur district was subjected to indiscriminate illegal mining. Then the TDP government led by Chandrababu Naidu handed over the case to Special Investigation (SIT) of Crime Investigation Department under state police.
YSRCP leaders were detained when their fact-finding committee tried to go to Dachepalli, Gurazala and Piduguralla where there was alleged limestone mining taking place. YSRCP had alleged that the satellite "evidence" has shown that one crore metric tonnes-worth illegal mining has taken place since 2014 in the region.
At the time, YSRCP Chief YS Jagan Mohan Reddy had demanded that the case should be entrusted to the Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI). In the same year, before the issue led to protests by YSRCP, responding to a PIL filed by former MLC TGV Krishna Reddy, Hyderabad High Court issued notices to Yarapathineni Srinivasa Rao (Gurazala TDP MLA), Principal Secretaries of the Revenue and Mines departments, the District Collector and the SPs of Guntur and Guntur Rural, directing the state government to submit a report on the investigationâ€™s progress.