| Workers collect sand from the Batha in Kamrup district. Picture by Kishore Talukdar |
Borjhar, July 24: The Kamrup west forest division has issued notices to various departments of the state to pay royalty against procurement of sand that is used in various construction projects.
Divisional forest officer B.C. Das said, “Kamrup deputy commissioner has also insisted that the forest royalty be deposited in advance.”
The notice was issued to executive engineers of the PWD (roads and bridges), Guwahati west division irrigation, Guwahati west water resources division, district rural development authority and the agriculture department.
A meeting was also held in this regard among the members of the Kamrup district development committee.
Sources at the forest division said the notices were served to check “illegal transactions”. “Earlier, construction materials like sand was not procured legally by the departments,” a source said.
After the Assam Minor Mineral Concession Rule, 2013, came into effect on March 16 last year, the forest department has obtained royalty from eight sand mahals in Kamrup west forest division after their settlement.
Sources in the division said Rs 1.87 crore has been obtained from the sand mahals as royalty so far.
Mining of sand, measuring 2,10,500 cubic metres, has been permitted from the eight mahals for this year. These are Singra, Kharkhari, Chhaygaon, Batha 4, Batha 5, Batha 6, Singra-Marakalahi, and Kukurmara in Kamrup.
There are 11 sand mahals under Kamrup West forest division.
Local residents alleged that a section of sand mafia extract sand from various rivers including Kulshi under Kulshi forest range.
“Instead of taking legal action, some unscrupulous forest officials allow illegal sand mining,” a resident alleged.
Moreover, about 10 suction machines used in excavation of sand from the river were seized in the last three months. “Over 35 trucks were seized in the last three months for carrying sand illegally,” said a source at the forest division.