| The entrance to a coal mine in Meghalaya. File picture |
Shillong, June 12: Meghalaya can be proud of its unique land tenure system where a majority of the land is privately owned.
But the recent order passed by the National Green Tribunal (NGT) makes it amply clear that no one has the right to carry out activities on that land according to their whims and fancies without complying with the laws.
While the coal miners have rejoiced over the partial relief granted by the tribunal in permitting transportation of the already extracted coal, the riders and other strictures laid by the tribunal in its order are colossal, with wide ramifications.
On Monday, the tribunal, comprising chairman Justice Swatanter Kumar and expert member Ranjan Chatterjee, conducted a hearing at the Meghalaya High Court on its interim ban on rat-hole coal mining and transportation of the mineral in the state.
“We are of the view that to a limited extent, we should permit the transportation of the already extracted coal lying in the open near the mining sites. However, such removal shall be subject to strict supervision,” the tribunal said.
The transportation of extracted coal lying near the mines would be for three months and the tribunal will consider enlargement of the period or passing of such other directions at a subsequent stage.
Commenting on the contention that coal mines in Meghalaya are privately owned, the tribunal said, “Whether these are private mines or they are mines which are on lands other than private lands, they cannot carry on this activity in an unregulated, indiscriminate and illegal manner without compliance with the laws.”
The state was directed that no “unregulated, illegal, indiscriminate mining” is carried on by any person in Meghalaya, and that all the mines should be sealed forthwith according to law. The deputy commissioner and superintendent of police of respective districts would have to comply with this order.
While granting permission to transport the already extracted coal, the tribunal laid down several strictures, which have to be complied with.
Some of these have far reaching ramifications, which could change the entire mining scenario in Meghalaya.
One of the strictures is that a committee comprising director of mines, Meghalaya, member secretary, Meghalaya State Pollution Control Board, member secretary, Assam State Pollution Control Board, senior scientist of the Central Pollution Control Board, senior representative of ministry of environment and forests, and principal secretary, Meghalaya mining and geology department would have to be constituted.