Dimapur, September 19: The Government of Nagaland has been caught in an embarrassing situation for levying royalty on sand extracted from Assam. As if that is not enough, two departments – Geology & Mining and Forest – are both separately levying royalty on sand coming into the State.
According to convention, those extracting sand in the state of Assam should pay and are paying royalty to the Assam Government in proportion to the quantity of sand extracted and only once. But when the sand enters Nagaland, the State Government levies double royalty, indicating the state of affairs prevalent here.
The levying of ‘illegal royalty’ on sand by two departments – Geology & Mining and Forest – has not only exposed the State Government’s total ignorance about the concept of royalty and its definition, but also the inability of the Government to take rational and decisive decision on governance issues, thereby further strengthening the kushi-kushi culture that is deeply entrenched in the system.
The Geology & Mining and Forest departments had literally been at war, including in the print media, over the right to collect ‘illegal’ royalty on sand coming into the State, with both departments wanting that the illegal revenue comes into their kitty, most of which might have likely gone unaccounted.
As per reports, the war of words between the two departments seeking the whole ‘illegal’ royalty pie reached the top level of the State Government, but indecisiveness on the part of the Government to ‘illegally’ decide on who should have the whole pie allowed both departments the license to levy separate royalty on sand. Revenue starved as the State is, the Government is likely to have accepted whatever ‘ill gotten’ revenue deposited by the two departments without any questions.
In fact it would be an interesting read if the State Government releases the comparative amount of royalty collected by the two departments and deposited in the State treasury in the last 4-5 years.
Royalty, in laymen’s term, typically constitute payment of a percentage of the gross or net revenues obtained from using an owner’s property.
According to the Indian Bureau of Mines (IBM), Ministry of Mines, Government of India, a lessee who has been granted mineral concessions is required to pay a certain amount in respect of the mineral extracted in proportion to the quantity extracted to the owner of the land (lessor). Such payment is royalty.
Royalty in law means payment made to the owner of certain types of rights by those who are permitted by the owners to exercise such rights, says the Indian Bureau of Mines.
But in Nagaland, kushi-kushi rules! It is not just royalty, but the increasing number of taxes as well as the number of authorities and organizations collecting taxes that is pushing up prices on good exponentially and hindering growth.
The ignorance of our elected lawmakers on how royalty works cannot be condoned but is quite understandable for obvious reasons. However, the lack of knowledge on the part of top State bureaucrats and technocrats, particularly those from the Geology & Mining Department, is unpardonable.
A PAC leader, Hilo Semp rightly lambasted the Government for collecting royalty on products imported from outside the State. “The question of imposing royalty on such exported products at check gates displays lack of understanding, foolishness and a way to manipulate the proceeds without accountability,” he told a meeting with Government officials at Naga Council office here today.
ACAUT Nagaland also maintained that levying royalty on minerals produced from other State by the Forest Department and Geology and Mining Department is not only double taxation but the legality of the true sense of royalty is compromised as it is not inter-changeable between two states.
The citizens understanding on “royalty” is for product produce from one’s own state, it said.
(Page News Service)