SHILLONG, Feb 15 � Meghalaya Government today ordered an inquiry to probe into the controversial Rs 15 crore Mawpalai Forest land deal, even as senior Forest officials now admit that laid norms were overlooked.
Forest and Environment Minister Prestone Tyngsong said that Additional Chief Secretary Barkos Warjri has been asked to constitute a committee comprising officials from the Forest department to probe into the controversial Forest land deal. �The inquiry committee would be either headed by Warjri or by the Commissioner and Secretary, Forest B Dhar,� Tyngsong said.
Meanwhile, Principal Chief Conservator of Forest (PCCF) VK Nautiyal when asked said the government had overlooked his advice while striking the deal. �When talks were on to purchase the hillock, I had advised that the government must not pay compensation for the forest as it was planted and maintained by the Soil and Conservation department. This bit of my advice was overlooked,� Nautiyal said.
Nautiyal said that the State Government never sought his technical expertise to evaluate the cost of the Forest and was not �privy to the conditions of the land acquisition,� thereafter.
The total cost of the whole property was raised to Rs 15.40 crore from the initial cost of Rs 4.61 crore fixed as land compensation by the Revenue department. The landowners were paid a compensation of Rs 10 crore and some more amount is to be paid.
�We cannot say for certain if there were any wrongdoings. Let the inquiry committee do its work and submit its report. That should not take more than 15 to 20 days,� the Minister added.