Meghalaya: Coke truck overturns, reveals modus operandi of illegal coal transportation
An overturned truck near Sarangma under Dainadubi outpost grabbed the attention of the authorities after they discovered coal hidden alongside with coke.
The truck was allegedly carrying over 40 MT of coal along with many bags of coke.
The truck was headed towards Goalpara in Assam from Shallang in West Khasi Hills (WKH) when overturned near the Assam Oil fuel depot in Sarangma.
A First Information Report (FIR) was filed at the office of the Superintendent of Police (SP), North Garo Hills (NGH), by Rahul Marak of the Garoland State Movement Committee and George Sangma of the Garo Indigenous Development Federation.
“They are making a mockery of the NGT while cheating the state. It is also encouraging coal mafias to operate freely within the state in transporting coal while paying nothing as royalty or taxes,” alleged the NGOs.
“The truck was carrying coal in the guise of coke and had been detained along with two other trucks. Upon being checked, they found coal in the 12-wheeler trucks,” the SP of NGH, Abraham Sangma, said.
“A case has been registered in the matter, and the issue is being investigated. Earlier, while trucks were not being physically checked properly, strict instructions have now been given that all such coke trucks be completely checked to find out what they are carrying. The matter is being taken seriously,” he said.
While coal requires a challan (p-form) to be transported and incurs about Rs 1,400 as taxes per MT, coke, which is a product of coal, was only paying SGST and CGST of about Rs 2,400 per truck (carrying loads of over 22 MT).
A police source on the condition of anonymity said that the accident today will be a blessing in disguise.
“Now the administration will have all rights to ensure all such trucks are checked, and we can nip the racket in the bud. This is excellent news for us,” said the source.
“It surprises us that there have not been thorough checks on what was happening. The authorities meant to inspect these trucks seem to have forgotten their duties. Who will pay for the vast amount of loss that the state has incurred because some of them were lazy or scared of the authorities? It makes no sense,” NGH resident Bappun Sangma said.
As per local sources, over 30 such trucks were using the route to transport coal in the guise of coke daily.
Each truck, while never weighed, allegedly carried over 40 MT of coal.
Interestingly, Shallang in West Khasi Hills has over 20 coke factories.
(Edited by Christopher Gatphoh)