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Check all trucks in Meghalaya: NGT

The checks are to ascertain whether the vehicles are illegally transporting coal

By Andrew W. Lyngdoh in Shillong
  • Published 26.04.19, 12:42 AM
  • Updated 26.04.19, 12:42 AM
  • 2 mins read
A truck which was illegally transporting coal overturned in Ri Bhoi district on April 8 A file picture

A committee constituted by the National Green Tribunal (NGT) has directed that all trucks plying through Meghalaya will have to be checked to ascertain whether they are illegally transporting coal.

The direction was given at a meeting held here on Thursday where committee chairman Justice (retd) B.P. Katakey was present. He has held several meetings to review various aspects related to coal mining activities and allied issues.

Speaking to this correspondent after the meeting, he said as a measure to curb illegal coal transportation, a direction has been issued where each and every truck plying through Meghalaya would be checked.

At the check points, CCTV cameras will have to be installed whose footage will need to be preserved for at least a year, he added.

“We have issued a direction to check each and every truck whether they are carrying coal or not. There has to be CCTV coverage, and footage has to be preserved for one year. Based on the CCTV footage, action will have to be taken by police and the administration,” Katakey said.

He said the existing checkgates along the Shillong-Guwahati and the Shillong-Silchar routes could be utilised for the purpose of checking trucks.

Emphatically stating that illegal coal transportation was still going on, he said, “If we have that system (checking of trucks) in place, we can detect how many trucks carrying coal are plying. Otherwise, it is not possible.”

He said checking of trucks would have to be implemented within a fixed period of time. However, he added that this could take some time and it would not take place overnight. The meeting also discussed exploring the possibility of fixing GPS in trucks.

Moreover, he said the meeting mooted the idea of having a committee to be headed by a retired Meghalaya police officer. The committee’s mandate could be to conduct visits from time-to-time, and check whether illegal transportation of coal was taking place.

However, a decision as to who would head the committee and its complete mandate would be taken up during the next meeting to be held on May 3. “We have not reviewed the decisions taken on March 25. We will review on May 3.

Katakey also said the North Eastern Space Applications Centre (Nesac), through satellite imagery, has been able to capture the number of coal pits and the extent of damage done to agricultural land in Jaintia hills.

However, the centre would give its final views towards May end as it would still need to send its personnel to the field and verify the imageries captured via satellite.

Remote sensing data from the centre had earlier detected at least 24,000 coal mines, covering both abandoned and existing mines in Jaintia hills.

SC hearing

The Supreme Court since Wednesday has been conducting hearings on whether the coal mining ban imposed by the tribunal since April 2014 should be lifted.

The arguments have continued till Thursday and would again resume on Friday, sources said.

On Wednesday, the arguments on behalf of Lber Laloo, the petitioner who went to the apex court seeking a lift of the tribunal ban, took place. Arguments on behalf of the state government took place on Thursday and could not be concluded.

“Right now, arguments are focused on the issue that the MMDR Act {the Mines and Minerals (Regulation and Development) Act (1957)} is not applicable in Meghalaya where minerals vest with the landowners as the act deals with leases only,” a source said.