GUWAHATI, Sept 6 - The failure of the Forest Department to e-auction over 50 stone and sand mahals in the State has been responsible for triggering an artificial crisis of stone and sand besides causing huge revenue loss for the government.
Revealing this, sources told The Assam Tribune that the prevailing abnormally high rates of sand and stone were directly attributable to the development.
In addition, government works and projects have been badly hit due to non-availability of sand and stone. This, in turn, is fuelling cost escalation every year. Sources added that scarcity of sand and stone had led to a parallel market by the sand and stone mafia, over which the government authorities were having no control.
The Forest Department has also failed to do the needful in terms of using the latest technologies to curb illegal mining, transportation of sand and stone, etc.
�Most other States are using modern technologies for transportation of minerals and also to curb illegal mining. This is not happening in Assam,� sources said.
In another serious development, the revenue earned from sand and stones has also remained stagnant.
�The Forest Department collects around Rs 100 crore from minor minerals whereas Bihar collects about Rs 1,000 crore a year for minor minerals,� sources said.
In yet another lapse, the Forest Department � for reasons best known to it � keeps failing to deposit the District Mineral Foundation (DMF) contribution to the District Mineral Foundation Trust (DMFT) to be utilized for the benefit of mining-affected people and areas.
�Only a few DFOs have deposited the fund and others have kept the fund in the form of bank draft which causes loss of bank interest to be utilized for the benefit of the mining-affected people and areas,� sources said.
Sources further said that many DFOs were reluctant to serve in remote areas and are always trying for posting in the headquarters with deputation or additional charge of other departments. This was against the mandate of the Forest Department and harming the interests of forests and wildlife.