Guwahati: The Assam government has asked Meghalaya to check overloading of trucks carrying coal, following allegations that a “syndicate” is running the illegal trade in connivance with government officials and police.
Transport minister Chandra Mohan Patowary told the Assembly on Wednesday that Dispur had set up a committee to monitor the trucks transporting coal from Meghalaya to other parts of the country via Guwahati, on a daily basis.”Chief minister Sarbananda Sonowal had announced zero-tolerance against corruption. There will be no comprise on corruption and the government will not bow down to syndicates,” Patowary said, replying to AIUDF legislator Aminul Islam.
Islam raised the issue during Zero Hour and said the coal syndicate was still active despite the government’s promise of action against corruption. “Coal India Ltd lodged several FIRs against coal theft from its fields in Margherita and Charaideo. Bold steps by the government are required,” Islam said.
Local groups such as Krishak Mukti Sangram Samiti (KMSS) have claimed that although a six-wheeler truck is allowed to transport only nine to 10 tonnes of coal, 20-25 tonnes are transported from Meghalaya. The KMSS lodged an FIR recently stating that a “syndicate” of police, politicians, tax and transport department officials was allowing the illegal practice in lieu of money. This, according to KMSS leader Akhil Gogoi, had triggered revenue loss in the state transport department.
Patowary said there was an increase in revenue collection since the BJP government came to power in May 2016. “The revenue collection increased from Rs 344 crore in 2012-13 to Rs 546 crore in 2016-17 and Rs 720 crore so far. Fines collected from trucks resorting to overloading went up from Rs 91 lakh in 2012-13 to Rs 5.13 crore in 2016-17 and Rs 4.7 crore this fiscal. If the revenue is going up, how is a syndicate possible?” he asked.