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Mon, 24 Feb 2020

Northeast Today

Coal Syndicate Issue In Assam Rocks Legislative Assembly

Coal Syndicate Issue In Assam Rocks Legislative Assembly
November 30
11:45 2019

NET Bureau

The much-debated issue of coal syndicate in the State came to the fore in the Assembly on Friday when the Opposition Congress raised the issue. While the Opposition was bent on an overall CBI probe into the alleged syndicate, the ruling party was asserting that there is now a coal syndicate in the State. The noisy situation came to such a pass that led the Speaker to suspend Congress MLA Rupjyoti Kurmi for the day. The heightened scene that continued for one-and-half hours ended with the Congress staging a noisy walkout demanding an overall CBI inquiry into the ‘coal syndicate’— both in the Brahmaputra and the Barak valleys.

The issue was raised by Congress members Ajanta Neog and Sherman Ali Ahmed during the Zero Hour. Neog said, “Coal syndicate continues unabated in the State. Some organized groups are involved in it. Illegal coal mining is still going on in Ledo, Lekhapani and some other areas. The North Eastern Coalfields has registered as many as 157 cases against illegal coal mining with the police. Illegal mining also destroys the forest cover. Even a ruling party MLA posted a video clip showing illegal carrying of coal in the facebook recently. It has also been reported in the media that the CMO (Chief Minister’s Office) is involved in the syndicate. Since the government boasts of zero tolerance against corruption, it should ensure nothing short of an overall CBI inquiry into the coal syndicate in the State. It should punish the guilty. A CID investigation has been ordered, but we’ve seen no tangible results.”

Speaking in the same vein, Sherman Ali Ahmed said, “The illegal coal mining has led to huge revenue loss. The biodiversity of the Patkai Hill is getting deteriorated every day. We want nothing short of a CBI inquiry into the syndicate.”

Denying the allegations flatly, State Parliamentary Affairs and Industries & Commerce Minister Chandra Mohan Patowary said, “There’s no syndicate of any sort in the State. And I assert this with responsibility. If proved otherwise, I’m ready to resign. If any member of this House has any evidence of coal syndicate in the State, let him/her share the evidence with the government. After ruling party MLA Suren Phukan’s video clip in the facebook, the Chief Minister instructed the DIG to collect the evidence from the member, if he has any at all. He also asked the DC concerned to visit that spot. If the government doesn’t act even after getting evidence of coal syndicate, you’re at liberty to question me. The government has already ordered a CID investigation into such allegations.”

Turning the tables on the Congress, Patowary started to enumerate the corruption cases and scams during the 15-year Congress rule in the State. Right from the cash-for-job scam in the APSC to IAY (Indira Awas Yojana) scam, and those of fake job cards, ghost children in the Social Welfare department’s ICDS project, Patowary enumerated a number of scams under the Congress rule.

“I’ll need 24 hours if I enumerate the corruption cases of the successive Congress governments,” Patowary said, much to the outcry of the Congress legislators who started shouting in full-throttle. Congress MLA Rupjyoti Kurmi was shouting with full lung power, “I’ll also need more than 24 hours if I have to count the misdeeds of the BJP government.”

When the noisy situation went beyond control, Speaker Hitendra Nath Goswami suspended Kurmi for the day and ordered the marshal to move him out of the House. However, the Congress members caught hold of Kurmi with all their might, stalling the move of the marshals. The Congress MLAs started shouting slogans like ‘Stop coal syndicate, protect democracy’ etc. With the unruly scene continuing unabated, the Speaker had to adjourn the House for 10 minutes.

When the House resumed functioning, Patowary said, “The government has already handed over the case in Karimganj Police Station relating to the alleged transportation of coal from the Barak Valley to Bangladesh via Meghalaya to the CBI.”

Patowary further said, “From January, 2016 to October 31, 2019 as many as 254 cases have been registered against allegations of illegal transportation of coal, besides the seizure of 665 coal-laden trucks and the arrest of 422 people. This speaks of the government’s pledge for zero tolerance against corruption.”

The Congress members then raised the demand for an overall CBI inquiry into the coal syndicate, both in the Barak and the Brahmaputra valleys, and staged a noisy walkout.

Source: The Sentinel


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