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Monday , May 19 , 2014
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Rat-hole mining hearing today

Shillong, May 18: All eyes will be on the National Green Tribunal (NGT) hearing in New Delhi tomorrow where a fresh order on the ban on rat-hole coal mining and transportation of coal is likely to be passed.

Coalmine owners in Meghalaya have been clamouring against the April 17 order of the tribunal, which directed the state machinery to ensure that rat-hole coal mining and transportation of the “black diamond” was stopped until further orders.

The owners argued that the order would lead to loss of livelihood in the state. Yesterday, coalmine owners and other stakeholders took out a procession in Nangalbibra, a coal-rich area in South Garo Hills, to express their concerns over the interim order.

However, with the onset of the rainy season, coal-mining activities are likely to come to a halt and recommence in October-November.

Tomorrow, the state government will present its case before the tribunal and, probably, hold up the Mines and Mineral Policy, 2012, which it had framed but whose implementation is yet to take place, to elucidate that steps were being taken to ensure an organised form of mining.

However, the same policy has asserted that “small and traditional system of mining by local people in their own land shall not be unnecessarily disturbed”.

On April 17, a bench of Justice P. Jyothimani, Justice M.S. Nambiar and expert members G.K. Pandey, P.C. Mishra and Ranjan Chatterjee had directed Meghalaya director-general of police P.J.P. Hanaman to file a compliance report on the interim order.

The tribunal had also observed that except for coal mafias, neither the government nor the people were benefiting from such “illegal mining” of coal.

Following the interim order, the state police were asked to ensure that no fresh mining or transportation of coal should take place in Meghalaya. The tribunal had also listed the Union coal ministry and the Meghalaya mining department as respondents to the case.

The four-page order was passed after the bench accepted an application on the issue of rat-hole mining in Meghalaya (original application No. 73/2014 and Misc Application No. 174/2014) filed by the All Dimasa Students’ Union and Dima Hasao District Committee.

The union had contended that illegal rat-hole mining in the Jaintia hills was polluting the Kopili river by turning its water acidic.

Two survey reports of 2006 and 2010, where pH levels of the Kopili show big differences, were also placed before the tribunal.

A good pH level for drinking water should be between six and 8.5.

If the pH level is lower than this, the water will be acidic and can be corrosive.

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