Cong flays Meghalaya govt on illegal saw mills

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Shillong, May 07 (UNI) The Opposition in Meghalaya Assembly today accused the state government of failing to curb felling of trees and operation of illegal saw mills in the state.

Chief Minister Donkupar Roy told the House that there were about 188 illegal saw mills running in the state, even as the department had sealed several of them.

''As many as 140 illegal saw mills has been sealed, but about 84 were forcibly reopened by the owners,'' Dr Roy, who holds the Forest and Environment portfolio, told House members.

He said the department has filed an FIR against these saw mills but the police has chargesheeted only eight of them in Jaintia Hills District.

Replying to a query raised by Sayeedulah Nongrum (Cong), Dr Roy admitted that 40 illegal saw mills are running in Garo Hills district and the process of sealing these unauthorised mills is underway.

Mr Nongrum also alleged that though he had brought to the notice of the chief minister about the unregulated functioning of these mills in his constituency no action has been taken gainst them so far.

''By not acting against them, isn't the state government trying to encourage illegal activities and plunder of the forests?'' The Congress MLAs asked.

''The fact is that, many of the saw mills break open the sealed gate in defiance of the rule of law and keep on carrying out their illegal activities,'' they claimed.

The chief minister, however, said that the government has taken actions against those involved in setting up of the illegal saw mills and felling of trees.

''We have detected 198 number of cases on illegal felling of trees and the police department has chargesheeted eight illegal saw mills,'' Dr Roy informed.

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