Developed By: Workmates Core2Cloud
Lokayukta secy sends order to CS and CBI on coal racket
SHILLONG: The PS to Home Minister James Sangma, Secretary, Mining and Geology department, the SP and DC of East Jaintia Hills are among those against whom the Meghalaya Lokayukta has demanded action following a petition on illegalities in coal and betel nut transportation taking place since 2015.
While the Lokayukta demanded the removal of several Meghalaya officials, the CBI has been asked to probe the illegal coal racket within 15 days for a preliminary report.
The official order of the Lokayukta was sent to Chief Secretary and CBI Shillong office on Monday though the anti-graft panel had issued the directive on January 9.
The chairperson of the Meghalaya Lokayukta, PK Musahary, said on Monday that it was based on the provisions of Meghalaya Lokayukta Act that he had ordered the CBI inquiry.
“There is some misinformation that Lokayukta has no power to order CBI probe. But the rules clearly state the Lokayukta can entrust the matter to any investigation agency”, he said.
According to the petition filed by border resident Abhijit Basumatary, the names of persons allegedly involved in the anomalies are from Meghalaya, Assam and Tripura.
The Lokayukta wanted the removal of Meghalaya officials to facilitate a fair probe by the CBI.
The petitioner mentions about the alleged involvement of the present and the then Superintendent, Inspector and Sub Inspector of Sutarkandi, Borsora, Dawki, Cheragaon Land Customs Stations since 2015 till date.
Others are Superintendent of Police and Deputy Commissioner of Khliehriat, Inspector, Mining and Geology, Umkiang check gate, all officers in-charge and inspectors of Khliehriat police station, Suraj Joshi, PS to Meghalaya Home Minister, Ratacherra, person at the weigh bridge at Umkiang, Enforcement Inspector, Transport department under Khliehriat police station, a person identified as Happy in village Tika and Bravetee Dkhar under Khliehriat police station.
The name of Manjunath C, IFS, Secretary, Mining and Geology also figures in the list.
Among other names in the North East, the OSD to Chief Minister of Assam was also mentioned by the petitioner. Police officials of Karimganj, Badarpur, Hailakandi, Sutarkandi, Cachar, Sales Tax department and MVI, Transport department in Silchar, present DIG and then DIG (2019) of Silchar, president and secretary of Coal Exporters Association, Karimganj have also been named.
The petitioner also mentioned the names of Kaushik Rai, district president, BJP, Cachar, and Biswarup Bhattacharjee, state vice president, BJP, Assam.
However, the focus of the Meghalaya Lokayukta will be state specific.
The allegation of the petitioner is regarding misuse of fund and revenue of Meghalaya and central governments in the name of export of coal and betel nut from East Jaintia Hills district to Barak Valley and Guwahati as 400 trucks per day were transporting coal and betel nuts without producing any valid legal documents since 2015 till date violating the order of the Supreme Court with the help of police personnel, civil administration and Mining and Geology department of Meghalaya.
The petitioner said that he had made various complaints to the CBI and other departments for taking proper action and inquiry regarding the scam.
The office of the Commissioner of Transport, Assam in 2018 had addressed to the Director of Mineral Resources, Shillong intimating regarding the illegal transportation of coal from Meghalaya and requested for coordination so that the anomalies can be stopped.
A report on “checking of coal transport by road’ was submitted on February 6, 2018 by the inspector of Tax, Karimganj.
Letters were also addressed to the deputy commissioner, Cachar regarding coal transportation, the petitioner said.
He pointed out that despite getting permission from the concerned authorities, persons listed in serial number 1 to 71 have prevented legal businessmen to transport coal to Bangladesh.
The petitioner said as per records available with the office of the Geology and Mining department, there were 15,000 entries of coal trucks and at Jatinga Forest Check gate, Assam there were 500 coal truck entries.
In Railway wagon in Barak Valley and in various places, no records were available about the entry of coal but since 2015 till date a minimum of 5 lakh coal trucks illegally entered Barak Valley without showing any legal documents.
Since 2015, till date illegal transportation of coal and betel nuts are continuing without proper documents, challans, GST payment and others which are allowed in the different check gates by the officials of the concerned departments
He also pointed out fake challans are also used for transportation of coal and illegal business which resulted in the loss of revenue of Rs 1,000 crore.
Mixing of Burmese betel nuts
The petitioner also pointed out that by mixing the Burmese and Meghalaya betel nuts, per day, almost 100 trucks are plying since 2015 from Burma to Mizoram, Assam, Meghalaya and West Bengal without paying GST and cess to the Meghalaya government as the taxes are paid to Assam and Mizoram which resulted in loss of revenue to Meghalaya.
In this regard, Director of Revenue Intelligence and Customs office of Meghalaya, Silchar and Guwahati are involved, the petitioner alleged.
Hence, he sought the intervention of Lokayukta to order probe into GST imposed in Assam and Mizoram of the loaded trucks of betel nuts.
Based on the petition, the Lokayukta had ordered that the chief secretary should effect the immediate transfer of officials under different departments whose names find place in the list furnished by the petitioner within 10 days to facilitate uninterrupted inquiry by the CBI.
“Having considered the alleged involvement of some high ranking civil and police officials and also taking into account the fact that this Lokayukta at present is not having an enquiry wing of its own, I deem it fit and proper to get the matter enquired by an independent agency like the CBI and get the preliminary report at the earliest to proceed further”, the chairperson said.
The CBI has to submit the preliminary report within 15 days from the date of receipt of necessary papers on Monday.
The Lokayukta also registered a case and decided to proceed in accordance with the provisions under the Meghalaya Lokayukta Act, 2014.
The chairperson said show cause notice will be served upon all concerned parties after receipt of the preliminary inquiry report.