Silchar: Barak Valley corridor has been infamous for a number of illegal trades, giving the impression there is no law of the land. It has been a route extending all the way from Myanmar to Mizoram and Manipur for transportation of contraband goods, narcotics, drugs, cough syrups and heroines as well as Burmese betel nuts. Now in focus the route is from Meghalaya to Malidahar, Gumrah, Kalain, Katigorah, Badarpur and Karimganj, stretching to Bangladesh for the black diamond called coal. Assembly was rocked by questions from the opposition how the illegal trade could continue under the very nose of the civil and police administration of Cachar.
Hailakandi MLA Anwar Hussain shared his own experiences and anguish over it before the media when he said the entire clandestine business is controlled by a well organized and well patronized syndicate, operating all the way from the rat hole mines of Meghalaya to the distribution and selling points and finally to the Bangladesh border. In order to have an understanding of the modus operandi of the syndicate, this scribe landed at Malidahar, the dividing line between Assam and Meghalaya. It was around 9 pm to see how the business begins late at night and continues till the dawn.
On seeing this scribe the police officer posted on the entry point of Malidahar left the spot, assigning the duty to a junior with a troupe of AP Bn. With that around 30 different four and six wheelers with middlemen as well as their musclemen disappeared from the sight. After crossing Malidahar bridge towards Meghalaya, 118 trucks loaded with coals were seen parked in a serpentine manner, waiting for signal to move. And they began to move one after another as dictated by the syndicate men. A roadside dhaba (eatery) worker said syndicates are active on both sides who liaison between the middlemen and drivers. After loading the coal from Meghalaya, the trucks have to settle the price with syndicate to cross over to Cachar. Then comes settlement with police. According to a well informed source, a coal laden truck has to cough up an amount ranging from Rs 60,000 to Rs 1 lakh who is then given a token or pass as clearance.
Coals are then taken to different destinations for unloading. A 25 tonner truck has to pay as high as Rs 1.25 lakh, starting from the mine to Gumrah against its selling price of Rs 3 lakh. At the unloading point of Gumrah, the undeclared tax of Rs 30,000 is paid to middlemen. Coals are also of different quality. Coal for brick kiln is priced at Rs 4500 to Rs 5500 per ton and for tea garden the price per ton ranges from Rs 3000 to Rs 4000. Destinations of trucks are different. Since Meghalaya coal is in great demand in Bangladesh, the syndicate raj extends to Sutarkandi, the international trade centre, near Karimganj. The average daily collection from this unauthorized trade in black diamond by the syndicate is not less than Rs 60 lakh which often touches the mark of Rs 1 crore.
Also Read: Cachar News