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-By Swapnaneel Bhattacharjee| November 9 2017

Silchar, November 8, 2017: Even as the government is making various efforts to curb corruption from the country, complaints from various quarters about the practice of coal transport in an illegal manner from Meghalaya to Assam’s Barak Valley have raised serious questions on the role of the police authority.

Complaints have been pouring in that trucks/lorries overloaded with coal enter Barak Valley from Meghalaya on a regular basis. The exercise has apparently become an easy affair after the Digarkhal check-gate on the National Highway-6 was shut down. Digarkhal, which falls under Cachar district is around 190km from Shillong and 35km from Silchar.

The state government had shut down the inter-state check-gates this year, a step aimed at reducing transportation cost of items coming from other states. The authority of patrolling and maintaining a vigil on vehicles entering into Barak Valley through the National Highway-6 came under the control of Assam police after the check-gate was closed. However, overloaded trucks have been plying daily through the road without any trouble at all. Complaints are also floating that a section of police is facilitating the unlawful practice in exchange of money.

Moreover, the overloaded lorries/trucks have been causing immense damage to the already-dilapidated roads in the valley furthering woes of commuters. Most of the roads here are in shambles and the plying of overloaded vehicles is worsening their condition to a great extent.

A large section of citizens have expressed dissatisfaction over the authorities concerned for allegedly being “negligent” over the matter and said even though government taxes are being evaded, there has been no step taken to stop the exercise so far.

Speaking to TNT– The Northeast Today, the district transport officer of Cachar – Angshuman Biswas said as per guidelines six-wheel lorries can take a load of 10 tons (each), while the weight limit for lorries with 10 wheels is 15 tons.

Sources said 25-30 trucks come to the valley from Meghalaya almost every day, mostly during late nights in order to avoid being spotted, and each truck/lorry carries around 28-30 tons of coal. The figures are shown around 10-15 tons in documents, whereas the actual amount of coal transported is much higher than that, sources said.

Sources said the coal is transported to different tea gardens and brick factories in Barak Valley. Coal has a high demand in tea garden factories and brick factories. There are 104 tea estates and more than 200 brick factories in the valley.

Besides coal, cement is also transported from Meghalaya in a similar manner. Trucks overloaded with cement have been plying through the road (National Highway-6) and coming to the valley for the past few months, sources said.

Cachar superintendent of police Rakesh Roushan told TNT- The Northeast Today that he had received some complaints about that around one and a half months back following which police swung into action and necessary steps were taken. He said police are active across the district and that patrolling would be intensified for a crackdown on the practices.

Stern action would be taken against those found involved, he added.

The writer can be contacted at swapnaneel.bhatt555@gmail.com

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