Govt blamed for Meghalaya illegal coal mining

A truck carrying coal from Meghalaya hill. DH file photo
Two days after an activist moved the Meghalaya High Court seeking a CBI inquiry into alleged nexus of politicians, police and illegal coal miners, former chief minister Mukul Sangma on Saturday blamed the state government for its failure to enforce the National Green Tribunal's(NGT) ban.
Mukul alleged that Conrad Sangma-led government did not act even as his party (Congress) raised in the Assembly that illegal coal mining was going on despite the NGT ban in 2014. 
The blame comes amid the search operation for 13 coal miners, who remains trapped in a 70-feet-deep pit in East Khasi Hills district since December 13. The National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) personnel have pressed deep divers and sonars into use in search of the miners but have remained clueless. Efforts are still on to pump out water from the pit as NDRF divers cannot carry out search beyond 30-feet.
The Centre had rushed Jaswant Singh Gill, a mining engineer, who had rescued 65 coal miners trapped in a mine in Bengal 20 years ago. Sources said Gill had shared his expertise and was monitoring the search operation.
The Congress had lost Assembly elections to Conrad Sangma-led National People's Party in March this year. 
On Thursday, Amita Sangma, one of the activists, who were attacked by suspected coal miners filed a writ petition in the Meghalaya High Court alleging nexus of politicians, police and coal miners, while seeking a CBI inquiry. Mukul Sangma also supported the need of a CBI inquiry. 
Faced with criticism, the Meghalaya government on Friday instructed officials to enforce the NGT ban. The ban on hazardous coal mining was imposed following a petition filed by an Assam-based NGO complaining that mining had polluted waters in a river that flowed down to neighbouring Assam.
The Supreme Court will hear a petition seeking the lifting of the NGT ban on January 15. The apex court had earlier allowed transportation of the extracted and assessed coal till January 31, 2019.
Chief Minister Conrad K Sangma, while admitting that illegal mining could be taking place, recently said it was not possible for the state police force to keep watch on all such activities as mining takes place in remote and inaccessible areas in the hill state.
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