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Illegal exploration of natural resources continues unabated

Our Correspondent
TINSUKIA, May 26: Taking advantage of poor government machinery, illegal exploration of natural resources goes unabated in the districts of Tinsukia and Arunachal Pradesh under alleged patronage of forest and police officials in connivance with local dubious organizations and political leaders, including NGOs and a few media persons.
Three entry points of Arunachal Pradesh in Tinsukia district, namely Jagun, Kakopathar and Dholla, are hotbeds of illegal activities. While local youth organizations and so-called NGOs, along with media persons, act as ‘watchdogs’ during night hours, intercept trucks carrying coal and timber and demand money from truckers, the departmental officials concerned allegedly get their share.

Though majority transhipments go unnoticed without any hitch and get safe passage, some incidents usually come to light after trouble erupt following disputes in sharing the booty. Tinsukia is endowed with vast natural resources and their protection and judicious use has become paramount. Usually the illegal activities reach the peak during festivals, particularly Bihu, said an official on the condition of anonymity. Very seldom culprits get arrested unless warranted. Valid papers are allegedly made overnight after detection for safe passage. As many as 50-60 overloaded trucks carrying coal and timber pass through national highways in Tinsukia district.

Two latest incidents raised the eyebrows of many. A timber-laden truck was first chased and later intercepted by few night monger press reporters, local NGO (environmental) activists and youths from an organization at Digboi. Later at Tingrai the driver of the truck was assaulted and the vehicle damaged by a group of miscreants who later disappeared. In an FIR which was later withdrawn, the manager of truck firm named nine persons, including secretary of TDJA. Though reportedly there were three other press reporters, who along with others, intercepted the truck, they were not named in the FIR which raised doubts about the allegation levelled against the secretary of TDJA of demanding money from the manager. While police gave a clean chit to all, the exact truth is yet to be ascertained.

On May 23, a coal-laden truck from Kharsang (Arunachal Pradesh) bearing number RS 05 GB 4386 was intercepted by few youths at Chelenguri in Kakopathar and they demanded Rs 1 lakh. Following altercation between the two parties, the police arrested two persons- Suraj Borah and Pradeep Chakraborty. Borah, an office bearer of Sadiya Youth Congress, had confessed to operating an illegal coal syndicate for long. He told the media about the involvement of a local BJP leader from Saikhowa in the illegal trade.

The local people alleged that most of the coal-laden trucks coming from Kharsang coal fields do not possess valid documents. The local political leaders allegedly are involved in the rectification of documents. Now who will bell the cat to make Assam a corruption-free State?

About the author

Ankur Kalita