SHILLONG, June 24 - The Meghalaya Government today decided to ask the Central Government to exempt the hill State from the Coal Mines (Nationalisation) Act, 1973.
In a Cabinet meeting, the Mining and Geology Department was tasked to pursue the issue with New Delhi. “The Mining and Geology Department will take up the issue of exemption from the Act with the Central Government,” Sangma said.
Section 3 of the Act states that the right, title and interest of the owners in relation to the coal mines shall vest absolutely with the Central Government.
However, the State wants exemption from the Act as it would enable re-start of scoal mining, which has been banned by the National Green Tribunal (NGT) since last year.
The ban on coal mining since April 17, 2014 by the NGT has had a devastating impact on the State’s economy, especially in the coal-rich belts of Jaintia Hills.
Coal mining is done the traditional way in Meghalaya, which is commonly known as rat-hole coal mining. However, this method has a severe impact on the environment and therefore banned by the NGT.
However, the State wants the President to invoke a notification under Para 12 A (b) of the Sixth Schedule of the Constitution and keep the State out of the purview of the Act.
Sangma said that on several occasions the State Government has pleaded with officials of various Central ministries, especially with the coal ministry on the issue of exemption from the Act.