West Burdwan: Five persons arrested for fake sand challan
Asansol-Durgapur police busted a racket involving forged e-challans issued through a fake government portal permitting the transport of smuggled sand in West Burdwan.
The detective department of Asansol Durgapur Police Commissionerate arrested five persons, including a software engineer, from Durgapur and Sainthia in Birbhum last week, following a complaint lodged by the district land and land reforms department of West Burdwan.
In a related incident, the CISF at Eastern Coalfields earlier this week intercepted a truck with coal smuggled out from West Burdwan's Barabani against a fake challan issued by a Dhanbad-based agency.
The twin incidents come at a time when the government is trying to stop the smuggling of sand and coal across the state.
Land department officials said that they came to know about the racket that was causing substantial revenue loss to the government.
The incident also comes shortly after directives from chief minister Mamata Banerjee, in her recent administrative review meeting for West Burdwan and East Burdwan in Durgapur, to generate toll income from trucks carrying sand legally, and use that money for development work in rural areas ahead of next year’s panchayat elections. The government has also introduced an e-challan system through a government portal to check sand smuggling and transport of smuggled coal.
“Sand traders now procure e-challans through the government portal against tax depending on the quantity of sand they are transporting,” said a land official.
“We recently came to know that the some are issuing fake e-challans to transport sand without the knowledge of the government and the state is losing revenue. They also created a fake portal for the purpose,” said a land department official in West Burdwan.
Police said racketeers created a fake portal under the name of West Bengal Mines and Minerals Development Corporation. “We blocked the portal and arrested five persons including a software engineer in this case so far. The engineer created the fake portal. We are now interrogating them. More persons are involved,” said an official.
Police said they were yet to ascertain how much sand was transported against fake e-challans.
“After that we will be able to ascertain how much amount of revenue the government has lost,” said a land official.
Sources said that racketeers involved in sand and coal smuggling have resumed work in Barabani, Jamuria and Durgapur in West Burdwan following a lull in strict vigilance by the administration.
“The sand smugglers procured fake e-challans from the racket to misguide the police during checking on roads at the time of transportation,” said a police officer.
Recently, local villagers demonstrated in front of the local BLLRO office in Andal protesting against rampant plying of sand laden trucks damaging the road leading to the local burning ghat. They alleged that smugglers were lifting sand "rampantly" from Damodar.
The Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) also uncovered details of a Dhanbad-based agency involved in issuing fake challans for transportation of coal. They intercepted a truck on Saturday carrying 27 tonnes of coal smuggled out from Barabani in Bengal and recovered a fake challan issued by the Dhanbad based agency.
The coal consignment was heading for Howrah.
"We are surprised that the coal is smuggled out and loaded in Barabni in Bengal but the driver was obtaining the challan on prior issued by a Dhanbad based agency in Jharkhand. We have handed over the truck to the local police.
Police arrested the truck driver and have started a case. However, questions must be raised about whether coal can be smuggled out without the connivance of the local police," said a district source. (??)
In Kali Pahari near Asansol the ECL also recently caught seven trucks carrying coal illegally after forging the registration number plates. The trucks were later handed over to the police.
The incidents come at a time Mamata government has prepared a stringent check list for entry of coal to Bengal from other states. No trucks carrying coal from other states are allowed to enter Bengal without proper verifications.
The Opposition however alleged that sand and coal smuggling is back in the region with the support of the local ruling party. “The incidents proved that sand and coal smuggling is in full swing and the attempts to check the crime by the government is an eye wash as the ruling party leaders are behind it,” alleged Lakhsham Ghorui, BJP MLA from Durgapur (west).