JORABAT, Sept 29 - After the recent increase in fine to Rs 1 lakh for all mine and mineral-related offences, the number of vehicles seized has increased as the owners are not able to pay the fine to take back their vehicles, according to forest officials.
Recently, State Environment and Forest minister Parimal Suklabaidya instructed the Principal Chief Conservator of Forests to impose a fine of minimum Rs 1 lakh for all mine and mineral-related offences.
A visit to the Divisional Forest Office, Kamrup East Division, shows that the campus area is now insufficient to hold the increasing number of seized vehicles.
There are eight dumpers lying at the Divisional Forest Office that were seized in the past 2-3 weeks.
Interestingly, no owner has come to claim their vehicles even after they were compounded after allegedly committing offences under the Assam Mining Minerals Rules, 2013.
�The increase in the number of seized vehicles is because of the raised fine, as the vehicle owners are not able to pay the fine of Rs 1 lakh to take back their vehicles,� said a forest official.
Rajib Baruah, DFO (Kamrup East), said �The instruction to increase the fines will help in reducing forest related offences because people are now thinking twice before heading out to commit such offences.�
�Our staff is doing a great job and working harder than ever to catch such offenders, laying charges and bringing them to justice,� he said.
It is a known fact that the forest mafia is robbing taxpayers of valuable royalties and hurting the economy, and there is a need to carry out enforcement activities to get these mafia men out of their syndicates and into courts.
A source, on condition of anonymity, said that corrupt officials accept bribes to let off such offenders and a new syndicate is formed to run such illegal activities. Thus, it becomes tough for the government to curb such wrongdoing.
Expressing their views on the raised fine, a few environmentalists urged the government to have tight control over onfield forest officials or the initiative might only give rise to corruption.