GUWAHATI, Feb 7 � Major violations of the norms of the Ministry of Environment and Forests in the widening of the National Highway in Assam have come to light and after an investigation, the Bureau of Investigation of Economic Offences (BIEO) of the Assam Police has already reported the matter to the State government.
Moreover, the State government is losing huge amounts of revenue because of the failure of the companies engaged in the project to pay the royalty for use of forest produce.
Highly placed official sources told The Assam Tribune that after receiving a complaint, the BIEO started an investigation into construction of a stretch of the Highway and found major irregularities in the process. The private farm Punj Llyod Ltd was given the contract for construction of a 28-kilometre stretch of the Highway from Nalbari to Amingaon and during investigation, major violations of the rules were noticed.
Sources revealed that the company was allotted the Gopeswar Stone Mahal Number 1 for collecting stones for the job, but major violations of the rules of the Ministry of Environment and Forests came to notice during the investigation. The company should have properly demarcated the one hectare area allotted to it for collecting stones, but that was not done. There should have been proper barricades in the area to avoid accidents, but that too has not been done. Landslide protection works in the area were not done, while another major violation was that the earth cut from the area was not kept in the spot for reclamation of the area as per the guidelines of the Ministry and that was transported and used on the road.
Moreover, as per the rules, the company should have deposited the royalty to the State Forest Department in advance, but that was not done. Thus the Forest Department lost royalty amounting to Rs 56 lakh in the process. The BIEO has already asked the Forest Department to take immediate steps to realise the royalty with interest.
Official sources admitted that the detection of the irregularities by the BIEO may turn out to be a tip of the iceberg as a number of companies are engaged in the expansion of Highway work in Assam and the Bureau only investigated the work of one such company after receiving a complaint.