NGT notice on order flout

Tribunal stalls transport of coal

By Andrew W. Lyngdoh in Shilong
  • Published 17.03.15
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A public meeting at Phra Mer in West Jaintia Hills district to discuss the ban on coal mining in Meghalaya. File picture

Shillong, March 16: The National Green Tribunal (NGT) today issued notices to high-ranking Meghalaya government officials and two coalmine owners after a report pointed out that the tribunal's directions had been violated.

The tribunal's principal bench, which passed its orders in New Delhi, also refused to allow transportation of coal in the state.

"We have perused the report filed by the three learned local commissioners. It shows that upon physical inspection, the commissioners have found that all directions of the tribunal are being violated. They have annexed photographs and record of the weighbridges to the report and have referred to the statements of parties who were found to be involved in illegal mining and transportation," the principal bench, headed by tribunal chairperson Justice Swatanter Kumar, said in its order.

The tribunal had constituted a team of local commissioners on January 29 to visit weighbridges, mining sites and places where implementation of the orders was expected and to periodically report to the tribunal about the implementation of orders passed from time to time.

The bench ordered issuance of notice to the Meghalaya secretary of mining and geology, the director of mining, the additional director-general of police, the deputy commissioner and superintendent of police of East Jaintia Hills and the owners (Sarkia Pawa and Prakash Pawa) of the mines from which illegal mining has been carried out.

"Let all these people be present before the tribunal and show cause why, in exercise of jurisdiction vested in this tribunal, the following directions should not be passed," the bench ordered.

The above persons have to show cause why "attachment of properties and bank accounts of the state; why for intentional default to comply with the directions and orders which shall be executable like decree of the civil court, they would not be detained in the civil prison, and why they should not be directed to pay compensation for restoration of the environment resulting from illegal and unauthorised mining" (sic).

The superintendent of police of the district concerned (East Jaintia Hills) has to ensure the presence of all the parties before the tribunal at the next hearing.

"We further direct that until our further order, there shall be no transportation of coal in Meghalaya. All of these officers shall be present and the original records of these weighbridges placed before the tribunal on the next date of hearing," the bench stated.

The counsel appearing for the state government submitted that the operation of the above order be deferred by two days to enable them to do the needful and ensure the presence of all these officers on the next date of hearing to be held on Friday.

The bench allowed deferment of the implementation of the order it passed today till the next date of hearing.

As the three-month deadline issued by the NGT for transportation of extracted and assessed coal ended on February 11, coalminers had approached the tribunal seeking further relaxation of the transportation period.

Chief minister Mukul Sangma, in a reply in the Assembly recently, had informed that 11,56,743 metric tonne of coal was transported from various depots of the state within the grace period allowed by the NGT and the royalty collected by the government was Rs 132,25,43,299.

He said the total quantum of extracted coal was assessed at 87,13,103.221 MT and the total quantum of assessed coal lying in various depots was 75,56,360.221 MT.

MINE OVER MATTER

* April 17, 2014: NGT bans rat-hole mining and transportation of coal in Meghalaya
* Sept. 1, 2014: NGT gives clearance for transportation of extracted and assessed coal 
* March 9, 2015: Meghalaya government admits revenue dip because of adverse impact of NGT ban 
March 16, 2015: The government pegs revenue loss in 2014-15 at around Rs 600 crore 

Union coal ministry constituted expert group, led by the Central Mine Planning & Design Institute Limited, to prepare broad guidelines for coal mining in the state. Directorate General of Mines Safety tasked to prepare the guidelines on health, occupational safety and related issues