Assam to hand over afforestation case to CBI

Samudra Gupta Kashyap

While the CBI probe into a multi-crore scandal in the Dima Hasao district has led to the arrest of several persons including a government officer, a top politician and two militant leaders, the Gauhati HC has directed the Assam government to hand over to the CBI another scandal in the same district, related to funds given by the NHAI for compensatory afforestation.

The HC order was passed by a division bench comprising chief justice MB Lokur and justice AB Paul on Monday, in connection with a PIL filed by an NGO called Assam Enviro-Legal Protection Society, which alleged that a sum of Rs 12.16 crore given by the NHAI to the North Cachar Hills Autonomous Council (NCHAC) was grossly misused by the authorities.

The NGO in its petition not only named former NCHAC chief executive member Depolal Hojai of being involved, but alleged that former state governor Ajai Singh too had a hand in it.

The NHAI, whose East-West Corridor passes through the hill district, had paid an amount of Rs 12.16 crore to the NCAC in 2008 for an afforestation programme to compensate the losses caused due to felling of trees for the highway.