Submit report on illegal coal mining in South Garo Hills: Meghalaya HC to govt
The direction came after a PIL was filed alleging that illegal mining of coal continues unabated in the state of Meghalaya despite the prohibition in place
The Meghalaya high court on Wednesday asked the state government to submit a report on whether there is any illegal mining of coal taking place in South Garo Hills district.
The direction came after a PIL was filed alleging that illegal mining of coal continues unabated in the state of Meghalaya despite the prohibition in place.
“For a start, the state will immediately report on whether there is any illegal mining in or around the South Garo Hills district in any manner or form or whether any machinery or the like exists or is in place for it to be suspected that recent illegal coal mining activity has been conducted at any place. The state will conduct a thorough search in such regard on a scientific basis and indicate the preliminary position when the matter appears next on February 7, 2023,” the division bench said in its order.
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The bench also directed that Coal India Limited should be represented on the next adjourned date and both the Coal India Limited and the state should indicate the procedure adopted for the transportation of the previously mined coal, particularly to ensure that challans issued in such regard are not misused for the purpose of transporting the recently illegally mined coal in the state.
It said that the state will also report on the veracity of the e-way bill which appears at page 35 of the petition.
The next hearing will be held on February 7.
Krishan in his petition had claimed that the transporters of illegally mined coal in the state are involved in purchase of the previously mined coal under orders of court and using the coal purchased at the auction as a front to carry on their illegal business of mining and transporting coal from the State.
The petitioner makes out a case that almost the entirety of the illegally mined coal is being exported to Bangladesh.
He alleged that the private respondent No.11 is engaged in illegal mining of coal in the South Garo Hills district or thereabouts.
The petitioner claimed that the respondent No.11 has purchased approximately 3500 MT of the previously illegally mined coal from depot No.11 in the South Garo Hills through the mechanism put in place pursuant to the orders of this court in the suo motu proceedings under the aegis of justice BP Katakey (retired). The actual auctions are being conducted by Coal India Limited.
“There is no doubt that when any of the previously illegally mined coal is being auctioned, a receipt is issued and separate challans are issued to individual trucks for transporting the coal from the relevant depot to wherever the purchaser wants the same to be delivered”, the petitioner claimed.
“There can be no doubt that, in the backdrop of the suspicion of continued illegal mining of coal in the State, appropriate measures have been put in place by justice Katakey to ensure that the coal purchasers at the auction do not mix up with the present illegally mined coal to facilitate the transportation of the recently mined coal, if any”, the petition stated.
The petitioner further referred to an e-way bill apparently issued on January 16, 2023 by the Department of Mineral Resources, Government of Meghalaya allowing a certain quantity of coal to be transported.
The petitioner submitted that the relevant e-way bill could not have been issued in connection with the coal purchased in the auction at depot No.11 by the respondent No.11 since a notice dated December 21, 2022 issued by the office of the deputy commissioner, South Garo Hills indicated that the period allowed for transportation of the coal purchased at the auction would be December 9, 2022 to January 8, 2023.
The petitioner also referred to a writing, a copy whereof appears at page 36 of the petition, which is prominently displayed on the trucks engaged by the respondent No.11 for transportation of coal. It reads: “Coal sold under Supreme Court order.”
The petitioner claimed that by pasting the aforesaid material on the windshield of the truck carrying illegally mined coal, the respondent No.11 has resorted to daylight robbery.
The petitioner claims that along with the delivery of a part of the coal purchased at the auction, recently illegally mined coal is being transported through the same trucks by displaying the aforesaid banner or notice.
Meanwhile, the state denies all the allegations and says that no particulars have been furnished.
The state also questioned the credentials of the petitioner and says that there is no complaint or even a letter issued by the petitioner to any state authority before directly approaching this court by the petition purportedly filed in public interest.