From a Correspondent
JORHAT, September 9: Alleging Congress syndicate in the allocation of works of the forest department to the tune of Rs 3.44 crore to known Congressmen, central members of Asomiya Yuva Mancha (AYM), in a press meet organized in Jorhat on Wednesday, alleged MP Gaurav Gogoi to be directly associated with the syndicate in reference to work related to the felling of trees starting from the Kakodonga area of Jorhat bordering Golaghat to the Jhanji area bordering Sibsagar district, to pave way for broadening of roads for the four-lane project of the tiol Highways in Jorhat district.
Addressing media persons, Abdul Rekib and Bijoy Sankar Borbora, assistant secretary and educatiol secretary of AYM central committee respectively, said, “Chief Minister Tarun Gogoi’s son and MP Koliabor Gaurav Gogoi is directly running the syndicate and has made grounds wherein the forest department is bound to allocate tree felling works to only Congressmen without calling for tender. The Forest Minister Etuwa Munda and forest department officials are dancing to the tune of MP Gaurav Gogoi. By this practice they have deprived unemployed and educated youths who also wish to lead an economically stable life.”
The AYM leaders further alleged, “As per the rules set by Gaurav Gogoi, noted Congressmen like Dadu Tai and Jayanta Hazarika of APCC and Manoj Hazarika of NSUI and Nilotpol Bora of Dergaon Congress have been carrying out the cutting and transportation of the felled trees to the nearest forest department depot. Moreover, the present DFO who is under the control of these Congressmen, is in direct nexus and has been pocketing a huge amount of money as commission. Except for Dibrugarh where Forest Minister Etuwa Munda has been given a free hand for the same forest clearance works, all other districts where the four- lane project is being implemented, are functioning under a syndicate and that too in a mafia style and hence we will apprise the matter to the Union Forest Minister demanding the immediate intervention of the Central Government.”
DFO Swapan Saikia, however, refuted the charges alleged by the central members of AYM. Talking to The Sentinel, DFO Saikia said, “The total money allotted for the forest clearance works stand at Rs 2.89 crore and not Rs 3.44 crore as alleged and that too the amount is not just for cutting trees or transportation of felled trees to the nearest forest depots. The actual amount sanctioned for cutting the trees is approximately Rs 35 lakh while the remaining money is for plantation of saplings and a host of other things once the road for four lane is demarcated. And since it is a technical job, we did not feel the need for tenders. Moreover, the work has just started with only about 80 trees that have been felled till now on both the sides of Dergaon and Jhanji end.”
Nilotpol Bora of Dergaon Congress said, “Is there any rule that even if I am involved in political work I cannot do technical work of the forest department? Abdul Rekib who called the press meet today alleging a syndicate in fact came to the site to ask for similar work and was confronted by my supervisor. As I refused to sublet work, they have started targeting us. We are just doing the cutting work by engaging labourers and later transporting them to the forest depot for auction in a later stage. Perhaps they wanted some easy money.”