Coal syndicate: CID says investigation in right direction
GUWAHATI, April 11: Over the past few years an alleged nexus at enforcement check-gates in the State has cost the State exchequer crores of rupees as revenue. This has come to light at the ongoing investigation into the alleged coal syndicate active in the State.
With the allegation of a coal syndicate, involving a section of transport officials and coal traders with political patroge, coming to the fore, Chief Minister Sarbanda Sonowal did ask the departments concerned to conduct an inquiry into the allegation. With the CID of the State Police force entrusted with the investigation, a 21-member special investigation team (SIT) led by CID official Nirmal Baishya was formed.
During its investigation, the SIT has found everything messy in charging fines from overloaded coal-laden trucks in the State. The investigation has found that overloaded coal-laden trucks are allowed to pass the State without having to pay any fines, and such incidents have dealt a blow to the State exchequer.
The investigating team has also found that some fake challans are also used by coal-laden trucks, evading fines at the enforcement check-gates in the State. The matter of fake challans is also being investigated by the SIT.
Assam has six coal fields – one each at Tirap, Tekok, Tipong, Ledo, Garampani and Khota Arda. The six coal fields together produce around 57115.11 MT coal monthly on an average. The six coal fields are under the Coal India Ltd (CIL) and the Assam Mining Corporation Ltd. Coal from Meghalaya also goes to other States though Assam.
So far, eight people have been arrested, including three transport officials, besides seizing six coal-laden trucks.
Talking to The Sentinel, SIT head Baishya said: “We’ve found everything messy in so far as charging fines from overloaded trucks is concerned. We’re trying to collect evidences. The investigation is going in the right direction.”
In 2014-15, Dispur got Rs 50.95 crore as revenue from coal. It got Rs 32.27 crore in 2015-16 and Rs 34.62 crore in 2016-17.
Will Dispur do enough to cut the losses?