Forest Dept censured for irregularities

Forest Dept censured for irregularities
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Transporters stay away from meet

DIMAPUR, SEPTEMBER 20: A meeting called by the Public Action Committee (PAC) of the Naga Council Dimapur today came down heavily on the Forest Department for collecting tax on sand imported from outside the State and that too without inserting date on the challan.
The meeting called by the PAC discussed the menace of illegal tax collection and problems faced by the transporters. Surprisingly no representatives from the Transporters Union turned up for the meeting called to discuss problems faced by them vis-à-vis taxation.
In the meeting, Dimapur Forest Range Officer, Jongpong admitted that the department collects taxes from sands and other forest items. On the issue of challan without mentioning dates, he clarified that “daily the department cannot deposit” the collected amount,
“We deposit it (collection) on weekly basis and on the day the amount is deposited in the State treasury, we add the date in the challan slips,” he claimed.
However, PAC officials outrightly rejected the explanation given by the Forest Officer. Few PAC officials even accused the Forest Department of behaving like an “extortionist department” of the Government and also for mischievously not adding the dates.
A senior functionary of the PAC, Hilo Semp told the forest officials present in the meeting, “Please do not teach us how department functions and how governments are formed. We are ready to accept any other excuses but the excuse of not adding the dates as stated by the forest official is unacceptable”.
Criticizing the Forest Department for the irregularities, Hilo Semp also voiced against many Government departments collecting tax in check gates. He said all the departments should adapt to the new taxation rules and get themselves updated.
After severely criticizing the Forest and the Geology & Mining Department’s dual taxation on sand and other products, the PAC assured that FIR will not be officially registered against the Forest Department if the department gives an assurance in writing that the department will not collect any tax until and unless the issue of dual taxation is not resolved by the higher authorities, and the forest department should add dates in the challan if they are permitted by the department to collect taxes on forest products in the near future.
It was learnt that the Divisional Forest Office has submitted a letter to the PAC giving assurance that they would not collect taxes at the check gates.
In the meeting, representatives of Andhra Fish Union asked the PAC not to misunderstand the presence of one or two Naga youths in the trucks ferrying fish into Dimapur. A representative said that they (Naga youths) are kept as a necessity to provide safe passage to the trucks ferrying fishes and lamented that a truck load of Andhra fish entering Dimapur has to pay nearly Rs 15,000 as taxes to police, MVI, the factions and DMC.
The same was reiterated by a representative of the vegetable traders who stated that traders ferrying vegetable and eatables from Pfutsero and other areas have to pay nearly Rs 10,000 to Rs 15,000 to reach Dimapur and it is very difficult at times. He, however, appreciated the PAC for initiating the people’s movement of “one government and one taxation.’
Vice president of the Naga Council Dimapur, Ghokheto Chophy told Nagaland Page on the sidelines of the meeting about the positive developments taking place with regard to taxation. “More needs to be done. It is only a beginning and slowly we will be able to do many things. People are tired and now much frustrated by the multiple taxations and sky rocketing of prices of all the products in the State,” he said while appreciating the participation of all the tribal hohos in the movement. (Page News Service)