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Cong leaders meet Pranab

- Miners’ families sell children because of abject poverty: Memorandum

Shillong, Aug. 7: President Pranab Mukherjee today was urged to exercise his constitutional powers to exempt or modify the application of acts of Parliament for three autonomous district councils in Meghalaya in the wake of the National Green Tribunal’s (NGT) ban on rat-hole coal mining.

The plea was made at Rashtrapati Bhavan when Meghalaya PCC chief D.D. Lapang, Shillong Lok Sabha MP Vincent Pala, cabinet ministers H.D.R. Lyngdoh and Prestone Tynsong and former Speaker Martin M. Danggo met Mukherjee this morning.

Highlighting the NGT ban on rat-hole coal mining, the Congress delegation said the ban has not only crippled lives of lakhs of tribal people in Meghalaya, but has also thrown out of gear large segments of migrant population who worked in these mines.

“Some families have even started selling their children out of distress,” the Congress leaders claimed in a memorandum submitted to Mukherjee.

They said it has become imperative that the acts of Parliament on mining and mineral development in Meghalaya and those on economic, social, cultural and political engagements of tribals living in the state, need to be examined.

“These acts need to be examined so that their application is exempted in all the three autonomous district councils of Meghalaya so that the traditional, customary, economic and social pursuits of the tribals in the state continue to remain unaffected,” they stated in the memorandum.

Under paragraph 12A(b) of the Sixth Schedule, the President has the power to exempt or modify the application of acts of Parliament to the three autonomous district councils in Meghalaya — Khasi, Jaintia and Garo — which has never been invoked in the past, they said.

“This constitutional provision is aimed at protecting the customary and traditional practices of life and life-dependent economic activities in territories covered by the Sixth Schedule. Though this provision has been in hibernation for decades, time has come for invoking it for protecting the basic social and economic rights that are integral to decent livelihood of the tribes,” the memorandum stated.

Claiming that the ban on coal mining has “completely devastated” the traditional and customary mining activities of tribals in the state, the Congress leaders pleaded for a presidential notification for exempting all the three autonomous district councils from application of central laws from a retrospective date.

“Any failure on this count may mean the eternal silence of the Sixth Schedule in relation to the people of Meghalaya to the detriment of the objective of the said schedule,” the memorandum said.


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