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Panel officials begin coal assessment

Shillong/Tura, June 15: Members of the committee set up on the orders of the National Green Tribunal to assess the amount of extracted coal before it is transported have already started on the job in various places.

While some of the officials began the assessment on Friday, others will follow suit tomorrow.

Last Monday, the tribunal had ordered 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.

The committee will also have to quantify the extracted coal and the location. No transportation of coal would be allowed before the committee submits a report to the tribunal, and examined by the government.

According to the state government, the quantity of the already extracted coal is 3.4 million metric tonnes while according to another estimate, it is approximately 9 million metric tonnes.

While allowing the transportation of the extracted coal, the tribunal had asked the committee to conduct an assessment and quantification of the extracted coal.

Following the order, magistrates in the Khasi-Jaintia and Garo hills would have to visit the coal depots and provide information on the extracted coal.

West Garo Hills deputy commissioner Pravin Bakshi today said additional district magistrate D.D. Sangma and additional district magistrate D.D. Shira have been deputed to visit Dalu and Damal Asim respectively.

A video camera team would also accompany the magistrates, Bakshi added.

Moreover, according to the order, the committee will have to prescribe the mode of transportation of the extracted coal with regard to the safeguards and protection that the transporter should take, both in regard to the health of the public, the workers involved in transportation and the general environment.

The carriage and transportation of coal would be done strictly in terms of the conditions imposed by the committee and not otherwise, the tribunal had ordered.

Further, the committee will have to fix two checkpoints on the transportation route of the extracted coal from the point of loading to the destination.

A checkpoint at the border with Bangladesh and boundary with Assam would have to be put up, and records maintained at all these checkpoints.

Mine owners have also been asked to maintain the records, which would be checked and verified by the staff of the authorities concerned in the state government. The records would have to state the quantity of coal loaded, quantity transported, quantity received at destination and particularly at the border.

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.