DIMAPUR, May 14 - The Nagaland Timber Traders’ Union (NTTU) has alleged “illegal tax collection” by forest officials manning check gates in the State.
According to reports, the State Forest Department, in a letter issued by the Conservator of Forest (State Timber Corporation), Dr Kenei, on May 6 intimated the timber traders’ union that it had initiated an inquiry into the union’s demand for removal of forest check gates. The department is stated to have told the timber traders that the inquiry is at an “advanced stage”.
If the inquiry is at an advanced stage, why is the department still allowing its officials manning the check gates to continue their “illegal collection”, the NTTU asked.
Union president Kevise Sogotsu cited a May 8 incident when a timber-laden truck coming from Phek district was made to pay Rs 3,000 at the Pfutsero check gate, Rs 3,500 at Peducha and Rs 4,000 at the Chumukedima check gate in the wee hours of May 9.
The union objected to the insistence of the forest department in asking it to furnish transit permits (TPs) for transportation of timber.
“How can the NTTU furnish TPs when both the forest department and NTTU know very well that forest officials manning the three check gates were resorting to illegal collection without issuing TPs?” Sogotsu asked.
The union, in a memorandum dated January 1, 2018 to the forest department, demanded that the TP rate for every district should be below Rs 3,000.
It also requested for providing police flying squads for timber-laden trucks plying from Kiphire to Dimapur twice a week. The union added it would leave no stone unturned in its fight for justice and removal of inter-district forest check gates.
Questioning the utility of forest check gates, the union said when the forest officials collect tax without issuing TPs or cash receipts, not a single rupee goes to the Government’s revenue collection.