Shillong, Mar 21: The Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) Report for the year ended March 31, 2019 has revealed that the state’s Forest Department failed to realise a fee of Rs. 11.87 crore at the check gates while issuing transit passes to 1, 18, 682 trucks, transporting lime stone outside Mehgalaya.
The fee for issuing of transit pass is Rs. 1000 per truck.
According to the CAG the department of Forest and Environment had 37 check gates out of which, 23 check-gates were established along the inter-state boundary in order to prevent unauthorised transportation of forest minerals and to ensure payment of royalty and other fees.
The CAF Reported stated that the Forest and Environment Department of the state government on October 2013 notified that all trucks carrying minor minerals outside the state shall be required to pay a sum of Rs. 1000 per truck as transit fee at the state Forest check gate established along the inter-state boundary.
“Audit observed (February 2019) from the records of the DFO, Jaintia Hills Territorial Division, Jowai that 1, 18, 682 trucks were issued transit passes by three check gates (Dawki, Umkiang and Thangskai), for transporting limestone outside the state/country between October 2016 and March 2018, without realising the fees at the prescribed rates from the trucks as per the government notification.
“Thus, inaction on the part of the DFO and the departmental staff has not only resulted in contravention of the government’s notification but has also led to non-realisation of fee of Rs. 11.87 crore to the government,” the CAG Report stated.
The case was reported to the Forest and Environment department in July 2019. The department in its reply (March 2020) stated that mineral accrued from mining lease areas under MMMCR, 2016 was certified as non-forest produce and collection of export fee is not applicable.
The CAG said that the is not tenable as per the government in October 2013, fee for issuing of transit pass is required to be levied on trucks carrying minor minerals from any forest or non-forest areas as well.
The CAG also stated that the audit observation pertains to the period of October 2016 to March 2018, the notification mentioned above was in effect and therefore, fee for issuing of transit pass is required to be realised. The CAG said that the subsequent notification of January 2020 was not applicable in these cases.