GUWAHATI: Denying reports of existence of illegal coal cartels in Assam, state Industry Minister Chandra Mohan Patowary on Monday said that over 100 people have been arrested and around 300 illegal coal-laden trucks have been seized by the BJP government in the 2018-19 fiscal.
Patowary was replying to an allegation levelled by Lok Sabha MP from Nowgong constituency and former Congress minister Pradyut Bordoloi, who had alleged that illegal coal cartels are being operated and controlled from the office of the Chief Minister.
Patowary said that the government has already ordered a probe by the CID of the Assam Police into allegations of illegal cartels just two months after the BJP government came to power and approached the CBI in October 2018 for taking up the probe.
“The Chief Minister had already sent a letter to the CBI in this regard in October 2018 and we are going to make a fresh appeal to the Central investigating agency,” he said.
“Our government’s stand is clear – we have zero tolerance against corruption. If you have any evidence against anyone, please give it to us and there will be action. Mere leveling allegation will not help,” he said.
He said that the BJP-led government its first Cabinet meeting after coming to power in 2016 had decided to close all illegal check gates as a measure to stop illegal commodity cartels which had infested the state.
“There were around 150 illegal toll gates extorting money on various pretexts and our government had closed it,” he said.
The Chief Minister has also instituted a committee to constantly check cartels which were rampant during the 15 years of Congress rule in Assam, he said.
The senior BJP leader further informed that about 450 illegal cattle were seized and around 55 persons arrested just in the current month.
“The kingpin of illegal cattle trade Sarfaraz was also arrested from Gopalganj in Bihar and he is being brought to Assam. This person received patronage from earlier Congress government,” he said adding that it is the BJP government that had launched crackdown on seven lakh ghost beneficiaries in the Social Welfare Department, in a relief to the state exchequer to the tune of Rs 150 crore annually.
Patowary also said that the BJP government had caught 4.5 lakh fake job card holders under Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act (MGNREGA) and they have been cancelled.