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NGT clears coal transport

- Panels sets guidelines for six districts
Extracted coal in East Khasi Hills in Meghalaya. File picture

Shillong, Sept. 1: The National Green Tribunal (NGT) today cleared the transport of the extracted coal from six of the eight mining districts in Meghalaya.

It specified, however, that the transportation should conform to the guidelines laid down by a committee set up by the tribunal.

Today, tribunal chairperson Justice Swatanter Kumar and expert member Ranjan Chatterjee allowed the committee, headed by Meghalaya additional chief secretary Kuljit Singh Kropha, to publish the guidelines to transport the extracted coal.

While the committee has not carried out the complete survey in these eight districts because of the monsoon, the tribunal gave orders for the transportation of the extracted coal in six districts in the state.

Of the eight districts, the committee could manage to assess the amount of extracted coal in only six districts.

In West Khasi Hills and South Garo Hills, the assessment work by the committee was hampered by the monsoon.

However, the committee could complete its task in East Jaintia Hills, West Jaintia Hills, East Khasi Hills, South West Khasi Hills, East Garo Hills and West Garo Hills.

While allowing the committee to publish and circulate the guidelines, the tribunal also allowed the transportation of the already extracted coal.

However, transportation has to be strictly in accordance with the guidelines, and the orders passed by the tribunal from time to time.

Moreover, the tribunal directed the committee to carry on its proceedings and cover the remaining two districts.

“The committee shall also ensure its best to expeditiously submit its report to the tribunal on the aspects of coal mining in Meghalaya, as directed under the tribunal’s orders. It shall also ensure its best to submit its report on the aspects of coal mining in the state,” the tribunal ordered.

Moreover, the committee was directed to examine the mining plan in accordance with the mining rules and the schemes formulated by the Centre in consultation with the state government and place the same before the tribunal on the next date of hearing.

The hearing will be held on October 7 in Shillong.

Some of the guidelines: Upon issue of notification by the state government allowing transportation of coal, all coal mine owners shall be given 14 working days to pay royalty.

After collection of royalty, the director of mineral resources (DMR) shall notify the date from which it will start issuing the transport permits. The three months allowed for transportation according to the tribunal’s order shall commence from the date that transport permits are issued by the director.

Owners will then be issued numbered transport permits by the director’s office. This will also be done district-wise.

Transport permits issued for a district will be limited to the quantity assessed for the district by the committee, for which royalty has been paid. Each permit will be for a maximum of nine metric tonnes of coal that can be carried in each truck.

All coal owners would have to maintain registers of declared quantity, assessed quantity, date-wise sale, date-wise loading and date-wise despatch of coal.

These registers will be subject to the verification of the district magistrates and the director.

The weight of coal loaded on each truck will be quantified at the exit point of the state.

A maximum of nine metric tonnes will be allowed for transportation by each two-axle truck, which will be in conformity with the Supreme Court ruling.

Trucks transporting the coal should have valid vehicle permit from the transport department.

A special marking — “Coal transported under NGT order” — will have to be pasted on the windshield from inside of the truck transporting the coal.

The taxation/transport gates will maintain separate records of all the coal trucks exiting the state.

All coal-laden trucks will have to pass through one of the nine designated exit points of the state manned by DMR staff.

The exit points are Dainadubi in North Garo Hills district, Umling in Ri Bhoi district, Garampani in West Jaintia Hills district, Umkiang in East Jaintia Hills district (all exiting to Assam), Dawki in East Khasi hills district, Borsora in South West Khasi Hills, Cherragoan in South West Khasi Hills, Bagli in South West Khasi Hills and Dalu in West Garo Hills (all exiting to Bangladesh).

There are two more exit points: at Athiabari, West Khasi Hills district (to Assam) and Gasuapara, South Garo Hills District (to Bangladesh). These two exit points can also be used after transportation of coal from West Khasi Hills district and South Garo Hills district gets clearance.

The exit points will be under the authority and supervision of the district magistrates within their respective jurisdiction, as long as the NGT order is in force. Wherever feasible, the district magistrates may use one of the existing check gates at the exit point as an integrated checkgate of the mining, taxation and transport departments.

Welfare of the labourers according to labour laws will have to be ensured by the coal owners/transporters/employers.