Forest dept incurs loss over Rs five crore

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Shillong, May 20 (UNI) The Meghalaya Environment and Forest department has incurred a loss of more than Rs five crores during 2002-06 following various anomalies and discrepancies.

Official reports from Khasi and Jaintia Hills division stated that Rs 19.03 crore royalty was collected from the miners in the division from April 2002 to March 2006 and expenditure was Rs 4.52 crore.

However, the state government had released 60 per cent royalty amounting to Rs 11.41 crore instead of Rs 8.70 without deducting proportionate collection charges leading to revenue loss of Rs 2.71 crore.

The department also incurred loss for incorrect application of rates leading a short realisation of royalty of Rs 1.40 crores in the field of earth, sand, stone and squared stones.

The rates of royalty on earth, sand stone and squared stone was revised in November 1998 and the materials were extracted and utilised by the contractors, reports stated.

The user agencies released Rs 1.45 crore royalty at pre-revised rate from the contractors instead of Rs 2.85 crore. However, the differential royalty was never collected by the user agencies thus resulting in short realisation of royalty of Rs 1.40 crore.

Meanwhile, defunct Mahals, delay in receipt of settlement orders from the government causing revenue loss Rs 80 lakh, non-settlement of Mahals causing a loss of 28.13 lakh were some other reasons that led to huge losses in the forest department.

The unauthorised timber allowed to be lifted by the Forest Develoment Corporation on part payment of Rs 1.64 lakh against royalty of Rs 14.29 lakh during 2006-07 also resulted in the loss.

Illegally felling and removal of timber from reserve forests also led to loss of revenue of Rs 9.76 lakh and failure to bring seized logs to safe custody led to another loss of Rs 7.42 lakh.

UNI PB PP RD1336

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