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Coal mining ban hits truckers

Dhubri, May 22: Coal trading depots of Jogighopa wore a deserted look after the ban clamped by the National Green Tribunal on coal mining from Meghalaya’s Garo hills on May 17.

Nearly 3,000 trucks from the lower Assam districts, engaged in transportation of coal have stopped plying, affecting the lives of over 10,000 employees and their families.

The Meghalaya government, after the tribunal’s instructions, imposed Section 144 CrPC in all the mining districts of the state and stopped mining and transportation of coal.

The district unit of the All Dima Hasao Students’ Union had moved the green tribunal on April 2, on illegal mining — including rat-hole mining — which is detrimental to the environment and poses a threat to the lives of the workers engaged in the occupation.

It said illegal rat-hole mining in Jaintia hills is polluting Kopili river by turning its water acidic.

Sources said 8,000 trucks from Goalpara, Krishnai, Jogighopa and Kamrup districts are engaged in carrying coal from the mines of Garo hills to Jogighopa. These truckers are jobless now.

Apart from this, 12,000 truck drivers and an equal number of handymen engaged directly in carrying coal from Nangalbibra and Jaji of Garo hills have to look for other routes to ply their trucks.

Talking to The Telegraph, the secretary of the Goalpara District Truck Driver and Handymen’s Association, Omar Ali, said the ban on transportation of coal from Garo hills has hit them hard.

The truckers, who are engaged in transporting coal to other parts of the country, bring back rice when they return to Assam.

Ali said if the ban was not lifted soon, there would be an adverse affect on the availability of rice, gram and cereals in Assam and other states of the Northeast.

A source said the NGT transferred the case to Meghalaya and it would be heard on June 2.