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Mining hearing in June

Shillong, May 19: The National Green Tribunal today refused to provide any immediate relief on the interim order banning rat-hole coal mining and transportation of coal in Meghalaya.

The tribunal, while fixing June 2 as the next date of hearing on the interim ban, received four applications from organisations in West Khasi Hills and the Khasi Hills Autonomous District Council pertaining to the April 17 order.

The Labour Association of Seijlieh, Nongstoin, of West Khasi Hills district, filed one of the applications.

The applicants contended that their rights are likely to be affected in view of the tribunal order.

The tribunal also accepted an application filed by Ka Hima Nongstoin Land-Owners, Coal Traders and Producers Association.

On June 2, the tribunal will conduct a hearing hereon the interim ban on rat-hole coal mining and transportation of coal, alleged presence of child labourers in the coalmines, and the July 6, 2012 incident in South Garo Hills where 15 miners were reportedly trapped in a mine.

“The interim ban on rat-hole coal mining and transportation of coal will continue until the next hearing,” Supreme Court advocate Ranjan Mukherjee said.

Mukherjee is the Meghalaya government advocate in New Delhi.

The tribunal included tribunal chairperson Justice Swatanter Kumar, judicial members Justice U.D. Salvi, and expert members D.K. Agarwal, B.S. Sajwan and R.C. Trivedi.

Sources said there was no unity among miners and other organisations who were affected by the tribunal order.

The lack of unity was apparent when one group moved the tribunal and another moved the Supreme Court on the issue.

“The first set of applications for vacation of the ban on mining was filed in the National Green Tribunal. This application was called early in the morning. The tribunal, however, refused to hear the said applications because some people had filed a Special Leave Petition in the Supreme Court,” a source informed.

When the Supreme Court heard the matter, it did not vacate the stay on mining, the source said.

However, the apex court permitted the petitioners to approach the tribunal and file similar applications for modifications and/or vacation of the ban on mining.