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SHILLONG, April 30, 2018: Under reporting by the Meghalaya forest department in the transport of limestone has caused a loss of nearly Rs 100 crore, according to a report by the Comptroller and Auditor General.

The forest department had set up checkposts at all major exit points of the state to prevent unauthorised transport of forest minerals without payment of royalty.

However, the audit said there is no system in place to obtain periodic reports of transport of forest produce through the checkgates and to cross-check it with the records of other departments.

The audit also observed that between April 2012 and March 2017, four forest checkgates recorded transport of 18.73 lakh metric tonnes of limestone. These checkgates are at Umkiang, Dawki, Shella Bazar and Bholaganj.

“Audit cross-verified the data with that of the mining department’s and customs department’s checkgates situated in the same locations as the forest checkgates. It revealed that during the same period, 163.22 lakh MT limestone was transported through the checkgates,” the report said.

Owing to the absence of suitable control and monitoring mechanism, the four forest checkgates under-reported transportation of 142.29 lakh MT limestone, which resulted in loss of revenue to the tune of Rs 99.49 crore.

“The department needs to obtain information periodically from other departmental checkgates to keep the instances of under-reporting in check. Additionally, the government may consider setting up of integrated checkgates for taxation, forest, mining, transport departments and others,” the report said.

Source: The Telegraph

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