Revenue collection at Srirampur, Boxirhat and Digarkhal going down sharply due to rampant corruption
BY OUR STAFF REPORTER
GUWAHATI, April 19: The amount of revenue earned by the Transport department in Assam has been falling at a rapid rate in the last few years. The gradually diminishing contribution of the department to the State’s exchequer has become a matter of serious concern. The reasons for the downslide in its revenue earning could be many, but rampant corruption at check gates across the State is the major reason.
According to sources, the State is regularly losing large chunks of revenue because trucks and other vehicles entering Assam are allegedly looted every day at the three check gates - Srirampur in Kokrajhar district, Boxirhat in Dhubri district and Digarkhal in Cachar district.
The officials, who are posted at these three check gates, allegedly extort money in the me of collecting various taxes from truckers and other vehicle owners. A number of irregular practices are blatantly employed like fudging records of vehicle entry, under-assessing load and consignment, charging extra over prescribed rates and setting up uuthorized private counters. The ill-gotten proceeds of this continuing scam reach up to the top of the administration, it is alleged.
The Transport and Sales Tax departments are supposed to check the commercial vehicles at these gates. “Officers and employees of the departments concerned find it highly lucrative to serve in these check gates. One can imagine the huge corruption taking place at these check gates right under the nose of the authorities,” sources alleged, adding, “On an average, the State government appears to be losing several hundred crores a year due to corruption at these check gates. What is more surprising is the apparent silence and unwillingness on the part of senior officers of the department concerned to stop this.”
Sources alleged that the officials and employees of the check gates charge extra amount from these vehicles than the prescribed limits. “There are allegations that sometimes records of entry of vehicles through these check gates are not kept for swindling tax money,” sources said, adding, “There are some uuthorized private counters on both sides of the roads at these check gate areas. The owners of these counters mostly collect the papers and money from the truck drivers and act as middlemen between truck drivers and the check gates.”
The revenue collection at these three check gates in the State has started falling considerably from 2006-07 to 2007-08.
“The total amount of revenue collected at the Srirampur check gate in the fincial year 2006-07 was Rs 19.35 crore, which fell to Rs 3.36 crore and Rs 1.88 crore in 2013-14 and 2014-15 (till February) respectively. The total amount of revenue collected at the Baxirhat check gate in 2006-07 was Rs 9.8 crore, which fell to Rs 3.31 crore and Rs 2.74 crore in 2013-14 and 2014-15 (till February) respectively. The total amount of revenue collected at the Digarkhal check gate in 2006-07 was Rs 3.49 crore, which fell to Rs 1.01 crore and 0.96 crore in 2013-14 and 2014-15 (till February) respectively,” stated an official record.
Sources said if an inquiry into the alleged corruption at these check gates is conducted by the State government through an independent investigating agency, involvement of top government officials, ministers and other vested interest groups will definitely be revealed.
A report by a one-man inquiry committee in 2007 has revealed how the State is losing huge sums of money because trucks entering the State are looted at check gates. The report is not just about how the load in trucks is “under-assessed” but also about how individuals ranging from government employees to political leaders, ministers, underground outfits and some NGOs benefit by way of bribes and extortions particularly at the Baxirhat and Srirampur check gates.