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Corruption slur on Forest Min

By EMN Updated: Feb 20, 2014 11:48 pm

Nagaland Timber Traders’ Union allege misuse of office by persons in authority

Staff Reporter

In an allegation that could spell doom if proven true, the Minister of Forest, Government of Nagaland, Y Patton was on Thursday accused of indulging in corrupt practice by way of selling off timber trade license to non-registered Naga tree framers “at the rate of Rs 3 lakhs per wagon.”
The allegations, made by the Nagaland Timber Traders’ Union (NTTU) and its district affiliates of Dimapur, Phek, Peren and Kohima, accused the Minister of “depriving the Naga tree farmers and plantation owners of their rights and the cost of their sweat and hard labor.” The timber traders of Nagaland have labeled the Minster’s alleged corrupt dealing as “a matter of great shame.”
NTTU officials on Thursday night claimed to Eastern Mirror that they have proof of the Minister selling off the trade permits to 11 non-registered businessmen, mostly non-Nagas based n Dimapur. It was alleged that the timber trade has also come under the grip of a syndicate system run by an influential Naga politician in Dimapur.
There are more than 30 registered “Naga tree farmers and plantation owners” in Nagaland, who according to the NTTU and its affiliates, have been denied their rightful opportunity because of the Minister’s unlawful dealing with the group of 11 businessmen based in Dimapur.
According to NTTU sources, the mean export of timber from Nagaland has been estimated at 2200 cft per day. “At present, the rate of timber/wood which should be sold at Rs.700 per cft is being sold at one Rs. 380 per cft due to the heavy commission on wagons imposed by the Forest Minister. This leaves the local tree farmers and timber traders with little room for profit,” read a press statement from NTTU.
As a fallout of this alleged corruption, the local timber traders have reportedly stopped supplying timber. “So now those who have been illegally given the trade permit are buying the timbers from the mills,” an NTTU official said.
“If the blatant misuse of power and authority by the Minister continues, than there is no point for local tree farmers and plantation owners to continue with their trade as the profits of their hard labor is swallowed up by others,” the NTTU statement reasoned.
Interestingly, it has also alleged the DFO Dimapur of “collecting money (selling of tree felling wagons) on behalf of the Forest minister.” It once again claimed that it could provide prove that the DFO concerned had submitted the “collection money” to the Minister on September 18, 2013.
The DFO is also charging Rs. 10,000 (ten thousand) per wagon as his personal commission. Why is the State Government keeping silent even though it is fully aware of the corruption and malpractices of the Forest minister?” it wondered.
The Naga timber traders demanded that the state government either remove or replace the incumbent Forest Minister “before things go out of hand.”
Apart from demanding the state government to “remove or replace” the Minister, the NTTU has also sough the platform of the Naga Council Dimapur and the Action Committee Against Unabated Taxation with their grievances.
Sources from NTTU confirmed to Eastern Mirror that a meeting among members of ACAUT, NCD and NTTU has been called on Friday to discus the issue. “This is an issue that should concern all Nagas,” as put by one of the NTTU officials.

By EMN Updated: Feb 20, 2014 11:48:05 pm