JORHAT, Aug 8 - The Bharatiya Janata Party�s district unit on Monday slammed the Forest Department for reportedly allowing a sand-mining racket to operate on the Bhogdoi river bed under Mariani range of the department within Jorhat district near the famous Hollongapara Gibbon Wildlife Sanctuary.
The sanctuary, which is named after the Gibbon ape, has several endangered species of primates, apart from a wide range of birds, elephants, deer, leopards, snakes and insects.
The BJP also came down heavily on the department for not closing down the forest check gate at New Sonowal area along the Assam-Nagaland border in Mariani after the State Government ordered closure of all kinds of check gates across the State from August 1.
The BJP�s Jorhat district unit president Santanu Pujari, while addressing newspersons here on Monday, targeted the Forest Department for turning a blind eye to complaints lodged by local people about illegal sand mining on the Bhogdoi river bed near the wildlife sanctuary.
Pujari said, while suspecting a strong well-oiled nexus between a section of forest staff and officials with the racket, said carrying out such illegal activity was not only a crime, but was a big environmental threat to one and all. He said as per a court directive, the Government has prohibited sand mining on the Bhogdoi river bed where the racket was operating.
The ruling party leader alleged that as per information received by the party unit from the area, the illegal mining was taking place at Katanibari area.
�Due to such kind of performance (read non-performance) by a section of Forest Department staff brings bad name to the Government.... as our party-led Government, which is committed to transparent and corruption-free governance, the image will be tarnished if punitive action is not taken to stop the crime,� Pujari said.
He said that the Jorhat unit of BJP has submitted a memorandum to Jorhat Deputy Commissioner Virendra Mittal mentioning about the illegal sand mining activity and also about functioning of the forest check gate at New Sonowal where tax was illegally collected by the department from vehicles coming to Assam from Nagaland and vice versa despite the Government closing down all kinds of check gates from August 1.
Pujari, while urging the DC to take suitable action to stop the illegal activities, said action should also be initiated against any staff or official, if found involved in such activities.
He said the party unit will apprise the State leadership and also the higher authorities of the Government in this regard.
Pujari informed that another memorandum had also been submitted to the DC seeking a probe by a group of experts into the dredging work carried out in Mudoijan stream of Teok river under Teok Assembly constituency with funds worth Rs 4.33 crores under the 2011-12 State Budget as there were a lot of complaints against the quality of work executed. Additionally, the dredging had absolutely no impact on mitigation of floods.
On resignation of Jorhat Municipal Board chairperson Aruna Dutta, Pujari said by the end of this week the party will select a new chairperson.
The 19 ward members comprising JMB is run by the BJP having a strength of 11, and with the rest by the Congress.
On the other hand, JMB vice-chairman Anup Ghosh Dastidar is officiating as JMB chairman till a new chairperson is elected.