On January 31, the Andhra Pradesh government terminated a mining lease for limestone spread over 1605.40 acres of land in Anantapur. It was held by a shell company associated with Telugu Desam Party (TDP) leader and former Member of Parliament J.C. Diwakar Reddy. While the government has said that a probe will be initiated into the allegation of illegal mining of over 3,212 metric tonnes of limestone from the leased land, publicly available documents establish the scandalous manner in which the company held government mines for the last thirteen years. However, successive governments have remained quite spectators.
In 2007, the then Congress government under former Chief Minister Y.S. Rajashekar Reddy reached a lease agreement with an enterprise by the name of Trishul Cement Company (TCC). It was granted the lease of over 1,605.40 acres of land rich with limestone in Konnupalapadu village of the Yadiki mandal in Anantapur district of the erstwhile Andhra Pradesh. The company was granted permission for captive use of the land for twenty years subject to a condition that the company should establish a cement factory within a period of three years from the date of execution. The lease was officially executed on August 1, 2007.
On August 13, 2007, Telugu newspaper Eenadu reported that the directors of TCC -- Gopal Salekula, Silas Kondikallu, Devaputra Timmapuram, Nagasubbarayudu Jinka and Hussain Basha Shaik were all binamies of the then Member of Legislative Assembly of Tadipatri, J.C. Diwakar Reddy, who was with the ruling Congress at the time. It was reported that Nagasubbarayudu was Reddy’s driver, Basha was his manager, Silas was a servant in his house and the other two were close friends.
The cement manufacturing factory or unit was not constructed within three years as per the agreement but the company was given an extension of another five years. That expired as well, and another extension was obtained. Till date, the factory remained un-constructed. According to local media reports, limestone was mined from the leased land and was transported from the land in the last thirteen years.
The YSR Congress government has now terminated the lease agreement under the provisions of Minerals (Other than Atomic and Hydro Carbons Energy Minerals) Concession Rules, 2016.
Name Changes of the Shell Company
TCC was incorporated in 2004 and remained an inactive company or, a shell company. It was dissolved on January 3, 2011 by incorporation of Trishul Cement Industries India Limited with the registration number 072016. However, all the previous directors were removed and three new directors – J. C. Samyukta Reddy, J.C. Pavan Reddy and P. Venugopal Reddy were instituted. Interestingly, this time, all three were family members of J.C. Diwakar Reddy.
In 2018, reportedly, Trishul Cement Industries India Limited was wound up and another company, Tadipatri Cements Private Limited, was incorporated with registration number 10844 on May 18, 2018.
Notably, the current directors of Tadipatri Cements Private Limited are the same five people who were the directors of Trishul Cement Company. Simply put, Diwakar Reddy’s binamies were brought back on the board.
A nine year long court case
In 2011, one V .Muraliprasad Reddy of Tadipatri in Anantapur filed a Public Interest Litigation (PIL) in the High Court alleging that J.C. Diwakar Reddy had resorted to irregularities with the leasing agreement while continuing with illegal mining. In fact, it is this case that prompted the state government to terminate the agreement. The court will deliver its verdict on February 10.
In 2014, J.C. Diwakar Reddy joined TDP and got elected as MP from Anantapur constituency. According to reports, he is now considering joining the Bharatiya Janata Party.