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Protests over coal mining order

- National green tribunal move ‘motivated,’ claim mine owners in meghalaya

Tura, April 23: Coal mine owners in Garo hills have termed the ban on rat-hole mining in Jaintia Hills by the National Green Tribunal as “motivated”.

They feel that the move will result in loss of employment for many poor households, who solely depend on mining.

The miner owners are questioning as to why the tribunal is not imposing a ban on jhum cultivation, which has led to destruction of green cover in the entire Garo hills.

“They should look at ways of improving the current state of affairs rather than issue a blanket ban on mining. This ruling has left thousands without the means to earn a livelihood. Is the mining of coal the only environmental hazard?” questioned Zinba Sangma, general secretary of Nongal Dobu Coal Truck Owners Association.

On scientific mining, Sangma said, “It may work in other states, but the land rules in Meghalaya will definitely be a hindrance to such initiatives”.

“Firstly, it will kill the small coal mine owners who will not have the money to use the technology, meaning they will be rendered useless. Secondly, the land is owned by dorbar shnongs and nokmas (village heads) and they will not be easy to get on board,” said Sangma.

Another mine owner, George S. Marak, said, “Scientific mining requires a lot of land and will also destroy the fragile environment of the region. Is rat-hole mining destroying the environment? The tribunal should find out for itself, before putting the words of vested interests in their reports”.

Marak was also of the opinion that the current state of affairs needed to be improved and a blanket ban would not help the cause of the people.

“If environment destruction is what they are after, the massive loss of forest cover should be a bigger concern. Unabated felling of trees has left Garo and Jaintia Hills almost bare and the tribunal should put its efforts at conservation of forests,” said Marak.