STATE TIMES NEWS JAMMU: Pointing towards the dilly-dally over the enquiry ordered by the government into the issuance of licenses for Katha Industries in violation of rules, Harsh Dev Singh, JKNPP Chairman and former Minister, on Tuesday accused the investigating agencies of connivance with the scamstars in a bid to cover up the scam. Addressing media persons, Singh divulged that in view of multi crore scam having surfaced in grant of licenses for such industries especially the outsiders, for felling of Khair-trees by forest mafia in violation of stipulated procedures and for holding of surplus stock of Khair-wood by these industries, the govt had constituted an enquiry committee to hold an in-depth probe into the said irregularities. He said that vide Govt order No. 250-FST of 2018 dated July 30, 2018, the CCF central was appointed as the head of the Enquiry Committee with a direction to complete the probe within one month and submit a detailed report in respect thereof. He said that a case was also registered by police and consequently three such industrial units were raided and sealed by the Police Deptt with the then IGP Jammu assuring thorough probe followed by appropriate punitive action against the culprits. Singh however regretted that no action whatsoever had been initiated thereafter against the powerful lobby despite the lapse of around six months from the date of initiation of enquiry with both the Forest Committee as well as the Police investigation having gone into hibernation. The mafia seemed to have once again proved that it was above law in J&K and that none could touch it in view of its money power and influence wielded by it, said Singh. Not only the probe was scuttled but the industries were allowed to operate due to connivance of govt functionaries who were providing such mafia all support and had facilitated their initial establishment as well as subsequent operation even after seizure. While the Katha Industries were being patronized and promoted by some vested interests in the Govt, the poor Khair growing farmers were exploited and robbed, rued Harsh. He said that their produce had been expropriated by these Katha Industries for a pittance without compensating them adequately for their only cash crop. He regretted in particular the non-payment of the dues of such farmers by these Industrialists which remained pending for months and years resulting in their starvation. He said that NPP would shortly issue a calendar of protests against the irregular practices in the Deptt besides exploitation of thousands of farmers of Jammu region who were dependent on cultivation and sale of Khair-wood for their subsistence and livelihood. Gagan Partap Singh State Secretary JKNPP and Parshotam Parihar State Secretary Panthers Trade Union were also present in the press conference.
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