Stating that a huge number of coal loading trucks are being piled at Meghalaya from different destination, Goalpara District Coal Exporters and Truck Owners Association (GDCETOA) in a letter to Chief Minister Conrad Sangma said a strong and illegal syndicate system is rampant both at private and official levels whereby a huge amount of syndicate/Musclemen Tax/Goons Tax is being forcibly collected from the coal loaded trucks per trip per truck.
Meanwhile, the Association today has threatened to move court against the alleged syndicate running the illegal coal business in the region and the state as a whole.
Speaking to media persons, Garo Indigenous Development Federation (GIDF) chairman G N Sangma said that the GDCETOA in a complaint filed to the federation has informed that they may be compelled to seek the court’s intervention against the syndicate.
He said even after complaining to the chief minister, there are still reports that till date there is an illegal collection by few individuals in different checkpoints of the region which includes in Pancharatna Hoad, Goalpara, Assam.
“There is a rampant illegal extortion money collection through a regular and well-organized syndicate system run by individuals and officials and this has greatly hampered and paralyzed the free and honest business of particularly the coal merchants and the Transportation System,” said Sangma.
Sangma informed that this illegal collection of money from coal merchants is being forcibly collected by various individuals under an organised syndicate starting from at Rs. 2000 upto Rs. 50, 000 from each truck at every checkpoint which falls under the NH 62. He added that even trucks with proper challans are being forcefully asked to pay hefty amounts for them to pass through a checkpoint and this has greatly affected those coal merchants who are into the legal coal business.
“This illegal collection of tax by various individuals who are working under an organised syndicate indicates the failure of the state government and this is embarrassing as the state exchequer is being looted by few individuals” he added.
Apart from the illegal collection of tax, the GIDF secretary alleged that even after complaining to the chief minister every day hundreds of trucks are plying via the NH 62 carrying illegal coal under the pretext of carrying coke to be transported to Assam.
“In the name of transportation of coke, this syndicate is also into illegal coal mining and transportation as every day about 50-60 numbers of 12 & 14 wheeler trucks ply through the NH 62 and this has caused a huge amount of government revenue loss,” said Sangma.
With regards to alleged illegal coal mining, Sangma said that as of today illegal mining takes place in Shallang area of West Khasi and then transported to Assam via Athibari, Riangdo and Danuidubi in the pretext of carrying coke from a legal coke factory.
When asked what will be the next step on their course of action, Sangma said that if the state government does not take action within the next few days, then they will move the court as well as the NGT for necessary action.