Eastern Mirror Desk
Dimapur, May 13: The Nagaland Timber Traders’ Union (NTTU) has questioned the rationale of the state’s Forest department to ask for Transit Permit (TP) from the timber traders when the department itself is not issuing the permit.
Briefing reporters on Monday, the NTTU president, Kevise Sogotsu said that Forest personnel stationed at check gates were still resorting to illegal collection of money despite the department assuring the union to launch an enquiry based on its complaint.
He cited the latest of such incidence: on March 8 wherein a timber-laden truck coming from Phek district was made to pay INR 3000 at Pfutsero check gate, INR 3500 at Peducha; and another INR 4000 at Chumoukedima check gate in the wee hours of May 9.
Sogotsu also took exception to the Forest department’s demand that the timber traders furnish TP for transportation. “Who is the authority to issue TP? Is it the NTTU or the Forest department? Why is the department insisting us to furnish TP?” Sogotsu asked.
He said that the Conservator of Forest (STC) had on May 6 written to the NTTU president insisting that the union furnish TP “as per list provided” by the union.
“How can the NTTU furnish TPs when both the Forest department and NTTU know very well that Forest officials manning the three check gates were resorting to illegal collection without issuing TPs?” countered Sogotsu.
The letter to the NTTU president also stated that the “enquiry” initiated by the department on NTTU’s demand for removal of Forest check gates “is at an advanced stage”. The NTTU official reasoned that if the enquiry is at an advanced stage, “then why is the department still allowing its officials manning check gates to continue their illegal collection?”
Further, the union questioned the utility of Forest check gates and said if the Forest officials are collecting taxes without issuing TPs or cash receipts, then not a single rupee was going to the government’s revenue collection.
The NTTU asserted that it would leave no stone unturned in its fight for justice and removal of inter-district Forest check gates in the state.
The union also reiterated the points contained in an earlier memorandum submitted to the Forest minister on January 15, 2018. In the memorandum, NTTU had demanded that the TP rate for every district should be reasonable and below INR 3000.
The union had also requested for police flying squads to be provided twice a week for timber-laden trucks plying from Kiphire to Dimapur.