Shillong, July 7: South Block in New Delhi, which houses Prime Minister Narendra Modi, appears to be the most sought-after address in Meghalaya following the April 17 ban on rat-hole coal mining by the National Green Tribunal.
Several representations have been sent to Modi seeking his intervention in the ban, which has apparently dislocated the life of those who are dependent on the “black diamond”.
Shillong Lok Sabha MP Vincent H. Pala, who also hails from the coal-rich belt of East Jaintia Hills, had last month sought a special package from Modi to aid those who had been affected by the ban.
Recently, the Jaintia Marginal Coal Miners and Owners Association and the All-Jaintia Youth Welfare Organisation also wrote to the Prime Minister asking him “not to take away our bread and butter”.
The tribunal’s ban has caused anxiety in this mineral-rich state, although the tribunal had allowed the transportation of the already extracted coal with several riders.
The Meghalaya government had recently expressed hope that it can convince the green tribunal to lift the ban on coal mining while it did not agree with the term “rat-hole” for all coal mining in the state.
In its petition to the Prime Minister, the coal miners’ association apprised Modi on the “adverse impact” of the ban, which had allegedly affected thousands of people in the Jaintia hills region.
“There are many who opined that those poor families who have been benefiting from coal mining are now beginning to starve,” the association’s president, L. Deibormi Rymbai, said.
Rymbai said the association had informed Modi that if the ban continues, starvation would become the order of the day in the Jaintia hills region.
He also claimed that some people, who were earlier depending on coal mining for existence, are now indulging in crime to feed themselves.
The association requested Modi to explore ways as to how the ban could be lifted from Meghalaya.
It also demanded that the green tribunal should no longer have any jurisdiction over the hill state as it falls under the Sixth Schedule of the Constitution.
The president of the All-Jaintia Youth Welfare Organisation, M.H. Dkhar, said Modi was informed about the plight of the people of after the ban.
“The blanket ban on coal mining had greatly affected the life and economy of the people of Jaintia hills especially those who belong to the marginalised sections. Tens of thousands of people of Jaintia hills have turned jobless,” Dkhar said.
In its memorandum, the organisation expressed concern that the affected people of the region may be forced to take to crime.
“The most dangerous thing is that if the ban continues, the jobless, frustrated and desperate youth and other affected citizens of the region may be misguided to join anti-social or underground groups. This will pose a dangerous threat to society of the region, the state and the national security as well,” Dkhar claimed.
He said Modi was urged to “use all his might” to intervene, and that it may be withdrawn from Meghalaya soon.
“Please do not take away our bread and butter. Please do not disturb us, but let us live in peace like before,” the organisation claimed to have stated in the memorandum to Modi.
Both the representations were also submitted to Union coal minister Piyush Goyal.