Allow regulated mining: Meghalaya to Centre

This comes amid the ongoing search in a flooded rat-hole mine in East Jaintia Hills district, where 15 miners got trapped on December 13 while extracting coal. Navy divers have detected the body of a miner, but have not been able to retrieve it yet. (DH File Photo)

The Meghalaya government has moved the Centre for allowing regulated mining amid strong allegation about its failure to enforce the National Green Tribunal's (NGT) ban in 2014 on coal mining in the state.

Meghalaya Chief Minister Conrad K Sangma met Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh in New Delhi on Friday, in which he stressed that regulated mining is required as the ban had impacted socio-economic development and resulted in revenue loss.

"There is a need to have regulated mining in Meghalaya with utmost care on safety of miners and environment. The ban on mining has affected the socio-economic condition of the people who are dependent on coal as well as loss of revenue for the state,” the chief minister told Singh.

This comes amid the ongoing search in a flooded rat-hole mine in East Jaintia Hills district, where 15 miners got trapped on December 13 while extracting coal. Navy divers have detected the body of a miner, but have not been able to retrieve it yet.

Sangma's request could raise many questions as a citizens' report recently alleged that the Meghalaya government “willfully” and “actively colluded in helping coal miners” to illegally extract coal and transport it, violating the NGT's ban. The report, prepared by 22 activists, which was submitted in the Supreme Court, also alleged that coal miners had deprived the original mine owners.

Sangma also sought Singh's help for issuance of a Presidential notification under paragraph 12A (b) of the 6th Schedule of the Constitution exempting certain provisions of Mine and Minerals (Development & Regulation) Act 1957 for Meghalaya.

"The chief minister assured Singh that the state shall adhere to all environmental and safety norms framed by the Government of India in permitting the mining activities in Meghalaya.  It was also made clear that technical committee constituted by the state for approving mining plan shall have representatives of the central government. It was also pointed out that the director general of mine safety would be free to inspect mines in Meghalaya at any point of time," an official statement said.

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