The Telegraph
Saturday , May 31 , 2014
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Hearing on mining ban deferred

Shillong, May 30: Coal mine owners and those who are dependent on the “black diamond” will have to wait a little longer for any immediate respite from the National Green Tribunal (NGT) interim order banning coal mining and transportation in Meghalaya.

The tribunal has deferred the hearing, to be held in the state capital, till Monday.

On May 19, the tribunal had decided to hold its sitting in the state capital on June 2 to deal with the interim ban on coal mining and transportation and two other cases.

However, today the tribunal announced that the hearing has been deferred to June 9, but the venue will be in the state capital itself.

According to a communiqué issued by the tribunal, the special circuit bench of the eastern zone bench of the tribunal comprising Justice Swatanter Kumar, chairman, and expert member Ranjan Mukherjee will be at the hearing.

On May 19, the tribunal had refused to provide any immediate relief on the interim order banning rat-hole coal mining and transportation of coal in the state.

Apart from conducting further hearing on the interim ban on coal mining and transportation of coal, the tribunal will also conduct a hearing on the alleged presence of child labourers in the coal mines. It will also deliberate on the July 6, 2012, incident in South Garo Hills where 15 miners were reportedly trapped in a mine.

The interim order banning coal mining and transportation of coal in Meghalaya has provoked coal mine owners and labourers to raise a clamour. Some groups have even gone to the extent of terming the order as “unconstitutional” and “illegal”.

On April 17, the tribunal had banned “rat-hole” coal mining and transportation of the mineral in the entire state. The state administration was asked to ensure that the tribunal order was fulfilled.

The tribunal had acted on an application filed by the All Dimasa Students’ Union (Adsu) and Dima Hasao District Committee (DHDC) from Assam before it on April 2.

Adsu had contended that illegal rat-hole mining in 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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