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Plea to Modi for coal-ban hit

Shillong, June 23: Shillong Lok Sabha MP Vincent H. Pala, while seeking an immediate rehabilitation package from the Centre for those affected by the ban on rat-hole coal mining, has noted that the National Green Tribunal has to be “halted in its tracks from causing social unrest, economic despondency and increase in insurgency activities”.

In a letter to Prime Minister Narendra Modi, the Congress MP has sought a rehabilitation package for coal mine owners, labourers and those who are dependent on coal mining. The package has been sought following the April 17 order passed by the NGT banning rat-hole coal mining and transportation of coal across Meghalaya. On June 9, the NGT allowed the transportation of the already extracted coal with several riders.

Pala said the order has affected coal mine owners and labourers who have been dependent on coal mining. He said migrant labourers, who are dependent on coal mining, have been pushed to a state of destitution wherein some of them had even sold their children. He said the ban was imposed without providing alternative employment or economic engagement for the owners and labourers.

Terming the ban as “iniquitous and harsh”, Pala said several cement plants, in Meghalaya and Bangladesh, which are dependent on the coal from the state, have come to a standstill causing economic blackout.

“The manner of distribution of royalty arising out of disposal of the extracted coal is deprivation of property to the owners to whom the extracted coal duly belongs,” he said.

In the June 9 order, the NGT directed that records should be maintained on royalty and revenue received by the state government for transportation of coal.

It said the amount received by the state would be shared with the district councils, but a major part of the royalty that the state receives must be retained for the expenses to be spent for environmental projects, restoration and protection of public health.

“The ban, without providing alternative to owners and other dependants of the business as well as the order for distribution of royalty on the extracted coal between the district councils and the state government, is robbing the owners’ property without constitutional sanction,” Pala said.

He, therefore, requested Modi to roll out an alternative rehabilitation scheme for the owners, workers, dependants and cement factories. Pala said the Centre should provide efficient legal assistance to the state and the affected parties.

Requesting Modi to “save” the coal mine owners, workers, migrant labourers and industries dependent upon coal mining, he said, “An immediate rehabilitation package is an imperative to salvage the situation.”


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