Taking cognisance of unabated alleged illegal coal transportation from South Garo Hills to North Garo Hills, two Meghalaya-based non-government organisations (NGOs) have urged the government to curb such movement to Assam’s Goalpara through the Dainadubi in North Garo Hills of Meghalaya.
In a formal complaint submitted to North Garo Hills deputy commissioner, Ripseng Marak on March 27, the NGOs A’chik Indigenous Justice Initiative Forum (AIJIF) and Dainadubi Circle Youth Organisation (DCYO) said that every night, on an average, around 100-250 trucks move along the route.
“Various check gates operated by local pressure groups and government departments are paid by the truck drivers to allow the illegal transportation. Bribery amounts in the line of Rs 96,000 to 1,20,000 are collected per truck and most of it goes in paying off various government departments. The politicians’ cut is also taken care of,” they said in the complaint.
Terming it a violation of government policies, the groups alleged that the illegal coal trade is being run by an organised syndicate and money from it does not reach the government.
“The entire machinery is being used to block any form of complaints against the trade. The illegal movement of coal not just burn a hole through the state exchequers, but it also creates hassle for those who do legal business,” they said, adding that some “greedy” department employees too are hand in glove with the miscreants.
The groups, in their complaint, also mentioned that the syndicate sends fleets of coal-laden trucks from depots (South Garo Hills) to Dudhnoi and Krishnai, Goalpara district where the consignments are illegally stored. Afterwards, these consignments are shown as old stock and papers are issued for transportation to other states.
“To get proof of the mafia-style functioning of the illegal coal transporters, one only needs to visit various depots that are lined up close to Dudhnoi and Krishnai in Assam. At least 25 such depots are situated by the side of the road. Each depot holds about 1,0000 tonnes of coal; all believed to be procured through illegal means,” they said.
Notably, a Supreme Court bench comprising of Justice Al Sikri and Abdul Nazeer on January 15, 2019, refusing to grant the rights to transport coal in the state, had asked the Meghalaya government to prevent illegal mining despite the ban already imposed by National Green Tribunal (NGT) in 2014.
“We request you (chief minister) to take up the matter with the concerned authorities and redress this issue expeditiously,” they said.