KAAC revenue woes and coal mining

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  • Og Mandino

Budgetary allocation is a mandatory function of a government taking into account the necessity of the matter at hand. In India — world’s largest democracy with its billion populations — it is always a tough job to prepare a budget. A given government making a budget at a given point of time is influenced by the prevailing political and economic situation and to some extent situation in the neighbouring countries. An election time budget is generally criticised by the opposition. The Indian democracy is vibrant and the constitution of India provides for self-governance for tribal people. The provision is made to make the tribes make a decision for themselves. In Assam the Karbi Anglong Autonomous Council is the perhaps the most notable of all Autonomous Councils in India. However the fund allocation, devolution of power to the Council by the state and by the Centre and the hill district’s development all comes down to how much money is actually allocated by the Executives of the Karbi Anglong Autonomous Council.

The budget of the Entrusted Subjects of Karbi Anglong Autonomous Council is fixed by the state government and the Council’s job is to merely pass the same. On this there has been long standing demand that since the Council was created to give autonomy to the backward hill tribes in Assam, the Council should be allowed to make its own budget for the Entrusted Subjects as well. The executives of the Council take decisions based on the reality of not being able to make a decision on the Entrusted Subjects component of the Council’s budget. The executives of the Council have from time to time led delegations to New Delhi for a solution to this so that Karbi Anglong Autonomous Council can make need based budget for the hill districts of Karbi Anglong and West Karbi Anglong district. In the past members of the Karbi Anglong Autonomous Council had raised their voices. In the recent budget session of Karbi Anglong Autonomous Council the Members of Autonomous Council (MAC) have again reiterated this. MAC D Uphing Maslai who represents Amri constituency pointed out that in all the constraints in making a Council budget, the state government have compounded the problem by not giving the Council’s share of 90% of Motor Vehicle Tax.

The Council has not been given its share of the Motor Vehicle Tax since 2000 with the arrear now amounting to Rs 39 crore. The other MACs also echoed the statement of MAC Maslai. Other members of the Council also pointed out that enormous amount of revenue have been lost due to the ban after the ruling of the Supreme Court of falling of trees. But it is interesting to note that none of the MACs have spoken on the vast revenue potential from coal. The coal in Karbi Anglong and West Karbi Anglong along the Meghalaya border has been mined for several decades without any permission from the state government or the Council. It will be better if the short fall in revenue is plugged by revenue from coal. The state government is also losing revenue from coal from the two hill districts. By completing all formalities, regulations and legality, the coal mining in Karbi Anglong and West Karbi Anglong can be legalized, which will subsequently cure the Council’s revenue woes to some extent.

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