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Congress flays Brahma for using private parties

MONITORING TIMBER & SAND MAFIAS

BY OUR STAFF REPORTER

GUWAHATI, Feb 2: Opposition parties on Thursday tried to corner State Forest Minister Pramila Rani Brahma on the floor of the Assembly by raising different issues related to her department. However, Brahma stated that she is trying to clean up the Forest department which had been left in a mess by the previous Congress government.

During Question Hour, Brahma said the Bamboo Mission, launched in the days of Congress government, had flopped to achieve its objective and was also marked by wide-scale corruption. “Under this mission, bamboos were planted on paper but not on ground,” quipped Brahma.

On this issue, Assembly Speaker Hitendra th Goswami said, “If such large-scale corruption took place in implementation of Bamboo Mission, you should order an enquiry.”

A section of MLAs alleged that large-scale corruption is taking place in connection with stone quarries and sand mahals across the State. The members stated that various construction activities have been hit due to shutting down of several stone quarries by the Forest department. In her reply, Brahma said, “Due to irregularities committed by several existing stone quarries, they were asked to shut down and I went ahead with fresh tendering. I will try to speed up the entire process.”

Several MLAs further alleged that some unscrupulous contractors are now illegally mining stone and sand in different parts of the State. Many of these contractors are also involved in felling trees in Assam by showing permits issued by Mizoram government. On this issue, the Speaker asked the Forest Minister to hold discussions with the Chief Minister to find a solution to the problem.

The Congress also slammed the Forest Minister for engaging private personnel to keep tabs on activities like illegal timber felling and sand smuggling in the State. The Congress argued that it is itself illegal to engage private parties instead of government officials to keep check on such activities. The party demanded resigtion of the Forest Minister on this issue.