| P.T. Sawkmie, district council member, takes part in a plantation drive at Mawpat in East Khasi Hills. Telegraph picture |
Shillong, June 5: Meghalaya today observed World Environment Day in the backdrop of the ban on rat-hole mining, which adversely affects environemnt, by the National Green Tribunal in the state.
Chief minister Mukul Sangma who holds the mining and geology portfolio, attended a World Environment Day programme jointly organised by the Meghalaya Basin Development Authority and the forest and environment department at the State Convention Centre here.
Forest and environment minister Prestone Tynsong also attended the function.
Addressing the audience, which included students, Sangma emphasised on adopting greener and more efficient technologies.
He said the state government had structured a mission mode intervention, Mission Green, to offer opportunities to stakeholders to achieve their objectives creatively and innovatively.
“It is important to reach out to youths as they are the beacon of hope for the future. Environment is everybody’s concern and we should put in all our strength and resources to ameliorate the degrading environmental conditions around us and the world at large,” Sangma said.
Tynsong announced a slew of measures for tackling degradation of environment. He pointed out six areas of concern, including mining activities, and said the state government was looking into it.
The areas are biodiversity loss, deforestation, shifting cultivation, water pollution, mining activities, growing pollution or urbanisation.
The tribunal had on April 17 banned rat-hole coal mining in the state and transportation of the mineral, which raised a hue and cry in this mineral-rich state. The tribunal has fixed June 9 as the next date of hearing for the case in Shillong.
Tynsong said environment was a globally important issue. He said the Environment Report 2005 had identified a few areas of concerns in Meghalaya and the government would address them.
He stressed on the importance of right to environment and said the government had taken steps to safeguard the environment. These include setting up of a separate environment department by carving it out of the forest department so that the state can have a dedicated directorate attending to environment issues.
At present, both forest and environment fall under one department known as forest and environment department.
Recently, the state cabinet had cleared the transfer of administrative control over the Meghalaya State Pollution Control Board from the public health engineering department to the state forest and environment department.
Tynsong said a few years back the state government has amended the Meghalaya Forest Regulation Act, 1973.
The definition of forest was notified in the amended legislation for clarity on the issue of identifying forest land for using it for non-forest purposes, he added.
The minister said the state government had also constituted a state biodiversity board with additional chief secretary P.B.O. Warjri as its chairman. The board has a few experts among its members.