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Meghalaya MLA questions GHADC for allegedly sanctioning illegal monopoly gate, collections
Five days following a decision of the SGH District Administration to allow the transportation of coal, reports have emerged of an “illegal” gate sanctioned by the GHADC and the collection of money from each coal truck, once again putting the entire exercise in jeopardy
Five days following a decision of the South Garo Hills (SGH) District Administration to allow the transportation of coal, reports have emerged of an “illegal” gate sanctioned by the Garo Hills Autonomous District Council (GHADC) and the collection of money from each coal truck, once again putting the entire exercise in jeopardy.
In 2019, there had been massive uproar after civilians took over the collection of fines from overloaded trucks which was the job of the Meghalaya’s Transport department and Directorate of Mineral Resources (DMR).
Reportedly, this led to an inquiry that sought to protect those who were named rather than to catch the culprits. The result of the exercise was a loss of over Rs. 52 lakh in revenue for just a single night.
Similarly, even after the Court allowed transportation to clear the roads of coal trucks earlier this year, similar collections were allegedly made inside the same government offices once again by a private individual who had no authority to be present there.
This time around, after the SGH administration allowed 30 days for the transportation of coal it had auctioned from the lot it seized, various reports emerged of illegal collections of Rs 7,000 per truck and an illegal check gate authorised by the GHADC.
Both the alleged illegal collections and the GHADC monopoly gate are running from the same place at Wage Asi under North Garo Hills district of Meghalaya.
“As per the order being cited by the collectors, no authorisation has been given to the lessee, identified as Sanjay A Sangma from Hawakhana, Tura, to collect money from coal trucks. The order allows collections from the Wage Asi (NGH) Coal Market. Incidentally, there has never been a coal market in the village which renders the entire gate illegal,” said Congress MLA from Mendipathar, Marthon J Sangma.
Sources had brought the matter to the notice of the MLA after an NGO from Dainadubi in NGH, the Garoland State Movement Committee (GSMC) submitted a written complaint.
According to the NGO, the collectors at the monopoly gate are illegally extorting Rs 500 per truck, even though they don’t have the authority to do so.
The MLA said it surprised him how such illegal acts are being allowed by the district administration when there are clear Court instructions that prohibit the setting up of any illegal check gates along NH-62.
This order came after the coal miners raised the matter before the Meghalaya High Court.
While he was livid at the inaction by the police and the district administration, the MLA directed his anger at the GHADC for allowing the setting up of the monopoly gate in the first place and that too, following the disbandment of the Executive Committee (EC).
“The order says that the gate has been authorised by the EC on October 16, when the MDCs were clearly on the way out. So how could the secretary allow such an order to be passed through her hand in the first place?” he asked.
The Deputy Commissioner of NGH, R.P Marak, however, was unavailable for comment.
Marthon, who submitted a letter to the administration on Monday, asked for immediate action against all those involved in the “extortion.”
“The circumvention of the law has been too blatant for one to ignore. It’s time the administration and the state government put its foot down and took action on these so-called collection points. Of course, going by the history of how it was handled earlier, these people are likely to be let off as they enjoy the backing of those in power,” he said.
(Edited by Andre Kongri)