BIRATNAGAR, Sept 6: On Tuesday, five tractors were seized for illegally extracting and supplying construction materials from the Gachiya River.
On August 30, five tractors were detained for extracting stones from the Khadam River of Kerabari-8 and Hachuwa River of Kerabari-3. Police sent those tractors to the District Coordination Committee (DCC) for further action. Later, the DCC freed those tractors after fining them Rs 10,000 each.
Naresh Pokharel, coordinator of DCC, Morang, said that the tractors detained on Tuesday too would be released after paying the same amount. According to him, there is no other punishment for those illegally extracting and supplying natural resources. "We don't have the authority to take any legal action other than fining them," said Pokharel.
As the smugglers can easily get their vehicles freed after paying certain amount of fine, they continue doing so. Police arrest a large number of tractors, tippers, trucks and excavators which are easily released by the DCC.
Two months since the beginning of the current fiscal year, 141 vehicles have been detained in the same way, show the records of DCC. Lack of strict laws has further encouraged the smugglers. Police have been deployed around the rivers of Letang and Kerabari to control illegal extraction of construction materials.
Those who have been assigned to monitor the activities in rivers catch the vehicles and hand over to DCC. As informed by Pokharel, DCC fines tractors Rs 10,000 each, tippers Rs 20,000 each and excavators Rs 40,000 each.
Last year, the DCC collected a revenue of Rs 4.2 million from people involved in illegal extraction of construction materials from rivers. Likewise, it collected Rs 1 million by arresting people involved in illegal extraction of resources. In just two months of this fiscal year, DCC collected Rs 4.5 million by fining vehicles involved in illegal import and export of goods.
The government is yet to formulate laws regarding the distribution and regulation of natural resources and goods. Therefore, DCC has been taking action against those involved in such activities following age-old laws. Provincial assembly member Suyarmaraj Rai says the provincial government needs to introduce strict laws to curb illegal extraction of natural resources.Meanwhile, DCC is planning to double the fine for people involved in such activities. After the district assembly, DCC board will call a meeting to discuss increasing the compensation. It is also planning to bring laws which will allow to seize the vehicles involved in such activities.