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12-hr strike off but 24-hr threat looms

Shillong, June 1: The proscribed Hynniewtrep National Liberation Council (HNLC) today announced that it has called off the proposed 12-hour shutdown on Tuesday, but threatened to call a 24-hour shutdown beginning June 10 in relation to the National Green Tribunal (NGT) interim order banning coal mining and transportation in Meghalaya.

The tribunal was earlier scheduled to hold a hearing here tomorrow. However, that has been deferred till next Monday.

On April 17, the NGT had issued an interim order banning rat-hole coal mining and transportation of coal across the state.

The council, in a statement signed by its “publicity secretary” Sainkupar Nongtraw, has termed the deferment a “delay tactic”.

Recalling the 1996 Supreme Court order banning timber trade, Nongtraw said the order had affected thousands of families in the state.

“The timber that was already felled before the ban was worth hundreds of crores. The Supreme Court constituted a high-powered committee and instructed the people to submit the stock inventory to enable the supply of the felled timber. This never happened,” Nongtraw alleged.

He pointed out that those who were affected by the Supreme Court ban resorted to coal mining and its trade.

“But after the ban on coal mining, our people have been rendered jobless, thereby, creating a huge gap of unemployment. We feel that the NGT would repeat the same delay tactics that had happened in 1996,” he added.

According to Nongtraw, the tribunal ban had already showed its effects in West and East Jaintia Hills, West Khasi Hills, Ri Bhoi and in Sohra.

“Government-salaried people will not be affected by the ban but only our poor people will. Many of the makeshift food stalls along the highways have closed down and thousands of truck drivers are rendered jobless waiting in anticipation for the verdict of the NGT,” he said.

Moreover, the HNLC opined that the tribunal should shut down all the cement plants in the Khasi-Jaintia hills.

Nongtraw said if the tribunal is not able to provide employment to those who are affected by the ban, then it should make way to lift the ban.

If nothing is done, a 24-hour shutdown beginning from 6pm on June 10 would be observed across the Khasi-Jaintia hills.

“The Meghalaya government would be responsible for any negative outcome following its inability to solve the burning problem,” Nongtraw said.