Promised timber to flood victims lost in official files, tax revision

Promised timber to flood victims lost in official files, tax revision

SRINAGAR: The victims of the devastating 2014 flood have complained that the state forest corporation (SFC) is denying them timber for the reconstruction and repairs of their houses. They said that despite procurement of valid sanctions, the corporation is not providing the requisite timber.
The then minister for forests Mian Altaf Ahmad had directed the officers concerned to issue timber to the flood affected families on the basis of the list approved by the deputy commissioner.
Arif Mehboob, a resident of Batamaloo said that he has been waiting for the timber since 2015 despite clearing all formalities including paying the amount into the account of General Manager of Jammu and Kashmir.
“I went to the concerned office many a times but I was not given the timber despite paying the due amount. The officials say that they have stopped issuing timber to flood victims due to various issues with the government,” he said.
He said as to why the SFC received hefty amounts from then for providing timber. “Firstly we were asked to submit a sum of Rs 25,000 and then a new notification was issued which asked us to submit additional Rs 20,000,” Mehboob said.
Another resident Mohammad Sofi said that he has submitted the documents at the concerned office in 2014 and since then the officials did not respond.
“My documents are pending with SFC and I don’t know what they have done to them. I’m yet to submit the money to get the timber as promised made by previous government,” he said.
Mohammad Altaf Sheikh whose house was completely destroyed in the devastating flood, pleaded with the authorities to issue the required quantity of timber. “Some of the flood affected people are yet to complete the reconstruction of their houses. Much time has passed since we completed all formalities including verifications. We want this issue to be resolved so that every one of us gets settled properly,” he said.
Another victim, Zaina Bano, alleged that the department provided timber to only those victims who had some kind of influence with the political leaders. “When department was issuing timber to the victims, the most deserving people were ignored,” she said.
Managing Director SFC, Suresh Gupta, told Kashmir Reader that flood affected victims were promised allotment of timber as per the government order in 2014 on highly subsidised rates. “Government has cleared differential amount including VAT and we have cleared the timber allotment till 2016. We then wrote to government regarding further instruction and we haven’t received any reply,” he said.
He said that the introduction of GST further complicated the issue. “Earlier there used to be VAT that the government used to pay at the end of financial year. Now due to GST we have to update it every month soon after the sales,” he said.
He said the government has promised to pay the tax for the timber issued to flood victims. “After the GST, the government has to pay the tax in advance. We can’t afford to pay the tax beforehand due to financial constraints,” he said.

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