Shillong, Aug. 3: A dawn-to-dusk shutdown will be observed across Meghalaya on Wednesday in protest against the alleged nonchalant attitude of the Mukul Sangma government over the ban on rat-hole coal mining.
The State Coordination Committee of Coal Owners, Miners and Dealers Forum has called the shutdown.
“Owing to the nonchalant attitude of the state government, we have decided to call a daylong shutdown on Wednesday as a mark of protest, which will begin from sunrise and continue till sunset,” Forum secretary M. Kharkongor said in a statement.
Kharkongor said they had met the chief minister thrice to discuss the NGT ban but expressed regret that the meetings were never conclusive, as there were only tall promises made, which failed to materialise.
In the meeting, the Forum members had submitted a memorandum, including a list of suggestions, which would not only benefit those who have a stake in coal mining but also safeguard the environment, Kharkongor said.
However, he said even this exercise turned futile owing to the chief minister’s indifference.
The Forum was particularly irked with the committee formed by the tribunal on June 9, as it failed to comply with the orders passed by the green court.
“We are disappointed with the committee and also with the government as it did not take the issue seriously. It has affected those who are dependent on coal mining,” Kharkongor said.
On Friday, the tribunal not only rapped the committee but also disbanded it before announcing the formation of a fresh committee to carry out the tasks outlined on June 9.
Among others, the committee had failed to frame requisite guidelines for transportation of extracted coal in accordance with the NGT order. It had also “delegated” its powers to various departments and authorities, which it was not entitled to do.
The committee also constituted sub-committees to perform functions, which it was not empowered to form.
It failed to submit appropriate report to the tribunal and did not take up the matter with the concerned authorities in terms of the directions contained in the June 9 order.
The tribunal had ordered that no transportation of coal would be allowed before the committee submits a report and the government examines it.
According to the old committee, the valuation of extracted coal is approximately Rs 18,000 crore.
The task of following the NGT guidelines now rests on the new committee.
The members of this committee are Meghalaya additional chief secretary Kuljit Singh Kropha, Meghalaya principal secretary M.S. Rao, senior scientist of Central Pollution Control Board (not in-charge of the region in Meghalaya), member secretary, Meghalaya State Pollution Control Board, and a professor to be nominated by IIT Guwahati having expertise in mining activity.
Kharkongor, while seeking public support for the shutdown, said ambulances, fire and emergency services, those attending patients in hospitals, milkmen besides media personnel will be exempted.