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Resident questions Meghalaya CM on coal mining issue
Correspondent

 
 TURA, Aug 18 - After the euphoria on the Supreme Court’s ruling on the coal mining issue, a resident of Williamnagar has put forward some very pertinent and thought-provoking questions to the Chief Minister Conrad Sangma.

 Pillarson D Sangma, a resident of Nokgil Awe area of Williamnagar in EGH, has questioned the celebration of the State Government on the matter, stating that the problems relating to coal mining have just begun in Meghalaya. Sangma has also sought answers from the CM on the matter.

The first question raised by Sangma has been the quantity of coal that is lying on the ground, extracted. “There is no more than 10 lakh tons of coal extracted but the government has put forward the figure of 32 lakh tons. As this coal will now be auctioned by Coal India Limited (CIL) possibly through e-auction, the question is who will buy this coal and how will the government resolve the issue of 22 lakh tons of missing coal?” asked Sangma.

According to the resident, the Supreme Court has not lifted the ban as the ban pertains to unscientific mining (rat holes) and not to legal and scientific mining. He pointed out that even during the NGT ban, legal and scientific mining could have been carried out but no one was doing scientific mining.

Welcoming the verdict of the SC for bestowing ownership of land and its minerals, Sangma stated that to mine those minerals, all Central Government acts have to be followed.

“These include the Mines Act – 1952, the MMDR Act – 1957 and the Mine Concession Rules – 1960 as well as seeking clearance from the environment,” said Sangma.

The other problem, Sangma said was that now miners have to engage engineers to set up a mining plan along with machinery which is too expensive for small miners. He added that even before mining, exploratory mining needed to be done and there are not enough engineers or professional miners in the State.

Sangma added that the SC order has taken away all powers from the State in terms of mining, except for being the watchdog of the Court. “You still talk about the preparation of a mining plan, but where is the State land?” he asked.

Sangma stated: “There can be no mining close to 10 km around the Balpakram National Park (BNP) as no clearances will be given now. In that case, the DFOs of both Nokrek Biosphere and BNP should be booked for allowing coal mining in these sensitive areas,” he felt.

Sangma hit out at the CM for taking credit for the reopening of coal mining, adding that any deviation from the SC order would attract Contempt of Court proceedings.

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