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Protest for withdrawal of coal mining ban
Raju Das

A big gathering during a protest march against the ban on ‘rat hole mining’, at Polo Grounds in Shillong on Wednesday. – UB Photos
 SHILLONG, July 30 – People affected by coal mining ban in Meghalaya imposed by the National Green Tribunal (NGT) today took out a protest rally and demanded immediate withdrawal of the ban.

The protest march was organised by the Movement for Indigenous People’s Rights and Livelihoods (MIPRL). The rally was held two days before the NGT’s Special Circuit Bench, Eastern zone is scheduled to hold its next hearing here to decide on continuing with the ban or withdrawing it.

“We have taken out this protest march to express our anger and also highlight the problems we are facing due to the NGT ban, which has affected the livelihood of lakhs of people in the State,” MIPRL Vice Chairman Erwin Sutnga said.

He said the people are strongly opposed to the ban because it has adversely affected them and taken away the only livelihood opportunity they had. Sutnga said MIPRL would also meet Prime Minister Narendra Modi to demand withdrawal of NGT’s jurisdiction from Meghalaya as the State falls under the Sixth Schedule of the Indian Constitution.

He further pointed out that the NGT Act was passed in 2010 without taking the Government of Meghalaya and the autonomous district councils into consideration. Sutgna said that the State and the Central Government must sit together and try to understand the unique problem of the State.

The NGT has banned coal mining in Meghalaya after a petition was filed by a organisation based in Assam that the unscientific rat-hole coal mines of Meghalaya were polluting the environment. The NGT banned the coal mining activities and later allowed disposal of the extracted coal with strict government control.

The Tribunal further ordered that the State Government must set some fund aside from the royalty received from coal mining and use it for land reclamation project, which were previously coal mining areas.

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