From a Correspondent
Bokajan, Aug 19: Despite the State Government’s order to shut down all check gates along the inter-State borders, the Khatkhati forest check gate on NH-39 along the Assam-galand inter-State border is continuing the corrupt practice of collecting illegal entry tax from vehicles carrying forest products to and fro the States of galand and Manipur. This forest check gate was dismantled shortly following the State Government’s decision to shut down all check gates along the inter-State borders to regulate price rise and to curb the mece of illegal tax collection by a section of unscrupulous government employees. However, post dusk, each vehicle carrying forest products is forced to pay a certain amount illegal tax to the corrupt officials manning the check post.
Trucks ferrying sand into the State of galand halt here and get their trucks enrolled in a well maintained register by paying an entry tax of Rs 200. This illegal money minting syndicate is allegedly said to be at behest of the I/C Binod Kathar, Deputy Ranger, Eastern Forest Division, Karbi Anglong. “We pay Rs 200 per load as entry tax in the check gate counter. Earlier, the amount was Rs 500 but, post GST roll-out and the closure of check gates along borders, the amount has been reduced to Rs 200. Over a hundred trucks carrying forest produce pass through this gate in either directions on a daily basis,” said the driver of a sand-laden truck. “We have no other option but to comply with what they demand. Otherwise, our vehicles are unnecessarily detained, seized or fined amounting to thousands of rupees,” said another driver on conditions of anonymity.
Although sand and stone chips get away paying a few hundred rupees, timber and veneer wood comes at a soaring Rs 2000 to Rs 5000 for a truck load and it is unlikely that such extortion racket along the highway is run without the consent of the higher officials of the department.
Taking to this correspondent, Karbi Anglong PCCF Abhijeet Rabha said that he had already been briefed about this corrupt practice by the galand Sand Suppliers Association. “An enquiry has been instituted into the matter and those found involved in the illegal money minting racket would be dealt with stern action,” he added.