SHILLONG, Feb 18 � The Goalpara District Truck Owners� Association of Assam has demanded a CBI inquiry into the existence of a large number of illegal toll gates in the Garo Hills region of Meghalaya, alleging that �powerful people� are involved in this illegal operation which spews several hundred crores of rupees annually.
�We are seeking a CBI inquiry into the existence of illegal toll gates from the side of the Meghalaya Government. We know who are the people involved in these illegal toll gates. If the Meghalaya Government does not take any action, we will reveal these names before the media,� the president of the Goalpara District Truck Owners� Association, Abul Kalam Hussain, said here.
According to Hussain, about 39 illegal toll gates are operating in the Garo Hills, which collect toll from coal-laden trucks in the region. On an average, a sum of Rs 1.75 crore is collected from coal-laden trucks daily. About 500 coal-laden trucks ply on any given day in the Garo Hills region.
According to this estimate, an amount of Rs 638 crore is collected annually from these trucks illegally, Hussain said. �This is a huge business and so the CBI must inquire into this,� Hussain said. Members of the Goalpara District Truck Owners� Association are in the State capital to meet Meghalaya Chief Minister Mukul Sangma and submit a memorandum in this regard.
Hussain said that the Goalpara District Truck Owners� Association had earlier submitted similar memoranda to the Deputy Commissioners of the North, South and East Garo Hills and also held meetings with the Superintendents of Police of these districts. But nothing came out of this. A memorandum in this regard has also been submitted to the Assam Government.
Hussain added that on some national highways in the Garo Hills, trucks are not allowed to ply during the day despite minimum traffic. They are only allowed to ply during the night so that extortion could be carried out by these illegal toll gates under the cover of darkness, he alleged.
The Goalpara District Truck Owners� Association has already decided not to ply any coal-laden trucks in the Garo Hills region from Tuesday. It warned that the decision would be extended to cover trucks carrying oil, gas and other essential commodities in the region by next week.
Hussain maintained that due to these illegal toll gates, the livelihood of many people involved in the transportation sector has been affected.