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Forest Dept fines contractors for illegal extraction of earth
Ajit Patowary
 GUWAHATI, Oct 13 - The Divisional Forest Officer (DFO), Eastern Assam Wildlife Division, Kaziranga National Park (KNP), Bokakhat has slapped a fine of over Rs 89 lakh on two contractor firms for illegally extracting earth.

The contractor firms extracted earth for repair of an embankment under the Asian Development Bank-funded Assam Integrated Flood and River Bank Erosion Risk Management Project. The project was executed by the Jorhat Division of Water Resources Department.

The contractor firms which have been fined for illegal extraction of earth are the Bokakhat-based M/s MPA-NKA (JV) and the Guwahati-based M/s Bharatia-Mahabala (JV).

The above information was collected by RTI-cum-environment activist Rohit Choudhury in the form of a reply from the office of the DFO, Eastern Assam Wildlife Division, KNP, Bokakhat to his RTI queries.

The DFO said that the inquiry report submitted by the Assistant Conservator of Forests (ACF) revealed that the forest material, including ordinary earth and silt were collected illegally and for which parts of the royalty was not paid.

The findings of the enquiry report say that the contractor MPA-NKA (JV) executed 50,000 cubic metres of earthwork. The Dolamora earth quarry was allotted to them for the purpose and for which they produced royalty payment certificate of Rs18, 30,000 only. However, it was found that out of the 50,000 cubic metres of earth allotted to them, only 2,810 cubic metres of earth was extracted from the Dolamora earth quarry and the rest 47,190 cubic metres was illegally collected.

On the other hand, the contractor firm M/s Bharatia-Mahabala (JV) executed 6,000 cubic metres of earthwork. The Dolamora earth mahal was allotted to them for the purpose, and out of which only 1,500 cubic metres was used from the designated mahal. The rest of the material, amounting to 4,500 cubic metres was illegally collected.

M/s Bharatia-Mahabala (JV) executed 47, 5000 bags of geo bag that was filled with river silt and laid on the embankment. This work, amounting to 38,475 cubic metres of silt was illegally collected. However, Rs. 2,38,571 was deducted from the contractor’s bill by the Jorhat Water Resource Division as royalty for the silt that was used.

Based on the enquiry report submitted by the ACF, the office of the DFO, Eastern Assam Wildlife Division directed the Range Officer of the Eastern Range at Agaratoli to book an offence under the Assam Minor Mineral Concession Rule, 2013 and Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Act, 1957.

While M/s MPA-NKA (JV) has been asked to pay an amount of Rs 46, 67, 756, M/s Bharatia-Mahabala (JV) has been asked to pay an amount of Rs 42, 59,766 as fine for the above offences, informed the DFO.

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