Opposition Congress leader and Rangsakona MLA, Zenith Sangma today accused the brother-in-law of Chief Minister Conrad Sangma of extortion on National Highway 62.
“The GHADC (Garo Hills Autonomous District Council) arbitrarily issued an order on the pretext of collecting coal monopoly tax from the coal trucks,” Sangma said here, questioning under what law the order was issued.
Meanwhile, Congress MLA for Mendipathar, Marthon J Sangma said, “As per the order being cited by the collectors, no authorization has been given to the lessee, identified as Sanjay A Sangma from Hawakhana, Tura, to collect money from coal trucks. The order allows collections from the Wage Asi (in North Garo Hills) Coal Market. Incidentally there has never been a coal market in the village, which renders the entire gate illegal.”
Zenith said that, initially, an amount of Rs 500 per coal truck was collected, but this was then doubled to Rs 1,000.
The Congress leader also claimed that, after responsible citizens complained about this to the North Garo Hills Deputy Commissioner, police protection was then given to those collecting money from the coal trucks.
Marthon said he was surprised as to how such illegal acts are being allowed by the district administration when there are clear court instructions that prohibit the setting up of any illegal check gates on National Highway 62. This order was given after the matter was raised by coal miners in the High Court.
While he was livid at what he said was the inaction by the police and the district administration, his anger was further directed at the GHADC for allowing the setting up of the gate in the first place and, that too, just before the council’s Executive Committee had been disbanded.
“The order says that the gate has been authorized by the EC on October 16 when the MDCs were clearly on the way out. So how could the Secretary allow such an order to be passed by her hand in the first place?” he asked.
Deputy Commissioner NP Marak was unavailable for comment on this story, with phone calls and messages going unanswered.
Despite demanding that action be taken against the “blatant circumvention of the law”, Marthon is not expecting too much to happy, saying, “these people are likely to be let off as they enjoy the backing of those in power.”
Describing the state of affairs as “very unfortunate”, Zenith pointed to the plight of the employees of the GHADC, who have not received their salaries for the last 30 months. He also said that SSA teachers have not received their salaries for the last four months. According to the MLA, this reflects the insensitivity and inefficiency of the government.