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NGT officials inspect coal mines, depots

- Committee constituted to check extracted coal and regulate its transportation
Extracted coal in East Khasi Hills. Picture by UB Photos

Shillong, Aug. 11: Officials here have begun inspecting coal mines and coal depots as part of the National Green Tribunal (NGT) order before any transportation of the mineral is allowed. Tonnes of extracted coal lie in the open in Meghalaya.

In East Khasi Hills, coal mine owners and government officials inspected the mines and depots in places like Mawkma, Mawmihthied, Pynursla (Thangjnat) and Mawlang area (Mawkynrew), Laitryngew and its surrounding areas, Sohra area, including Mawkisyiem.

A similar exercise was done in East Jaintia Hills district, which has a large amount of coal deposits. The inspection in East Khasi Hills and East Jaintia Hills will continue until Thursday.

In South West Khasi Hills districtís Mawkyrwat, the assessment team visited coal mines in the district from the Saturday and the assessment will conclude tomorrow.

Sources said even in the Garo hills region, the assessment of the extracted coal is being carried out.

The green court had constituted a committee on June 9 to assess the quality of extracted coal and regulate its transportation.

However, on August 1, the NGT 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.

The committee comprised the director of mines, Meghalaya, member secretary, Meghalaya State Pollution Control Board, member secretary, Assam State Pollution Control Board, senior scientist, Central Pollution Control Board, senior representative of the ministry of environment and forests and the principal secretary, Meghalaya mining and geology department.

On June 9, the tribunal had ordered that no transportation of coal would be allowed before the committee submits a report and the government examines it.

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.

The figures relating to the amount of extracted coal presently lying in the open are also incongruent. One figure stated by the committee is nearly 36,59,152 metric tonnes as declared by the mine owners/managers.

The other figure assessed by the committee is 37,36,352 metric tonnes. The committee also stated that the quantity of extracted coal declared by the mine owners/manages, which could not be verified, is 85,87,147 metric tonnes.

According to the old committee, the valuation of extracted coal is approximately Rs 18,000 crore.

As the earlier committee was disbanded, the tribunal, on August 1 itself, had constituted a fresh committee to carry out the tasks as outlined in the June 9 order.

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 with expertise in mining activity.

Whether the committee fulfils the June 9 guidelines and orders will be known on October 7 when the green court conducts a hearing in the state capital.


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