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Cachar forest department goes digital

Special Correspondent

Silchar, July 26: Apart from the 2 day long programme on empowerment of rural women, Chief Minister of Assam took the most significant step to cover the entire forest revenue management, procurement action and sale of minor minerals, forest mahals and auction of timber together with transport of all forest produce and minor and minerals completely online. Significantly, the Chief Minister had issued very clear directive to the department to go online on February 22, 2018 at a meeting. It was only after Parimal Suklabaidya, minister of environment and forest, fisheries and excise took over the charge that the initiative got full steam.

According to the system, the entire online process is divided into three segments which include online payment of forest royalty on minor minerals and other forest produces, issuance of permits and transits pass and tracking of vehicles carrying forest produce, using satellite based GPS system. It also includes an online e procurement system for sale of minor mineral concession areas, forest mahals and auction of timber, firewood and other forest produces. It was on Wednesday that the Chief Minister launched the portal which is now the forest online revenue and e produce system at this town.

Cachar forest division can take the place of pride for implementing the pilot system. The portal has online forest permit system. Various government departments such as PWD, NHAI, railways, municipal corporation and other statutory organizations that require minor minerals for development works can now apply for permit online and all the royalty and other fees shall be paid in that system only. The divisional forest officer has been vested with the authority to examine the indent and issue the permit online once the payment has been done.

In order to make the system foolproof, the various authorities of the forest department and other user departments shall be using digital signatures for signing off the documents such as indent, issuance of royalty pay orders and permit itself. Along with the online permit system, there is provision for online sale of minor mineral concession areas that include stone and sand mahals to begin with. According to a forest official, the prospective bidders would require digital signatures to participate in the bidding process and all fees to be reimbursed online only.

Another significant aspect of the system is its full compliance with the e-Gras (online government receipts accounting system) of the finance department to be implemented from August 1, 2018. With a view to making the entire process error free and hassle free, the Cachar forest department plans to conduct capacity building and training of the various departmental and government users, contractors and bidders. Most important, fitting of global positioning system (GPS) in vehicles carrying minor minerals shall be made mandatory by the department.

It will be based on the navigational satellite constellation systems in order to bring the minor mineral concession areas and forests under close surveillance and monitoring. The mining areas shall be geo-fenced and alerts shall be generated through SMS. The route of the vehicle entering or leaving the mahal area will be specified in the system. A map server is being deployed for specifying the position of the vehicles carrying forest produces, the forest official pointed out.

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