Shillong, May 12: Meghalaya forest minister Prestone Tynsong has come under fire from coal miners and exporters for hailing the National Green Tribunal (NGT) which passed an interim order banning rat-hole mining in the state.
The tribunal passed the order on April 17 based on an application filed by the All Dimasa Students’ Union and the Dima Hasao District Committee from Assam on April 2.
The groups blamed “illegal rat-hole mining” in Jaintia hills of Meghalaya for the pollution of Kupli river (originating from Meghalaya) which made its water downstream highly acidic.
Condemning Tynsong’s statement hailing the NGT order which termed rat-hole mining in Meghalaya “illegal”, the coal miners and exporters under the banner of Western Coal Miners and Exporters Association called the Congress minister, representing Pynursla constituency, “a representative of the Dimasa Students’ Union”.
“Tynsong, it would appear, is a representative of the Dimasa Students’ Union (who filed the case) and we hope that he contests the next election from the state of Assam so that he can look after the interest of the Dimasas even better,” the association said.
They alleged that the Tynsong’s claim of rat-hole mining being illegal as per Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Act, 1957 was absolutely incorrect as there was no mention in the act regarding such traditional method of mining which has been prevailing in the state for decades.
The association also said that the system of mining coal in Meghalaya dates back to the British period.
“We fail to understand how the minister at this juncture has termed it illegal,” a statement issued by the association says.
Stating that the remarks of Tynsong has come as a shock to the coal trading community of Meghalaya, the association said a representative of the people who ought to stand by them in this hour of crisis has added insult to injury by hailing the order of the tribunal.
They also claimed that the order has affected the livelihood of over lakhs of people in Meghalaya.
“The governments, including the Centre, are earning huge revenues by way of royalty from coal mining in the state. Such a statement made by a cabinet minister is irresponsible, insensitive, immature and needs to be condemned by one and all,” the statement stated.
The statement also says that till date, despite the importance of the matter and the consequences, the government has not yet approached the tribunal.