Ex-CM accuses ruling Meghalaya govt of encouraging illegal coal mining

Updated on Jan 16, 2021 07:14 AM IST

Sangma said the mineral, weighing truckloads, which were dumped in a scattered manner, were being tallied.

Former Meghalaya CM Dr Mukul Sangma receiving a report from West Jaintia Hills deputy commissioner Dykes detailing the identified stock of fresh coal identified at the spot.(HT photo)
Former Meghalaya CM Dr Mukul Sangma receiving a report from West Jaintia Hills deputy commissioner Dykes detailing the identified stock of fresh coal identified at the spot.(HT photo)
By, Shillong

By David Laitphlang

Senior Congress leader and former Meghalaya chief minister Mukul Sangma has accused the ruling MDA (Meghalaya Democratic Alliance) coalition in the state of encouraging illegal coal mining and transportation in the state.

In a letter to state chief secretary MS Rao, he claimed that illegal unabated coal mining is still being carried out in the state. In the letter, Sangma said that he found illegal coal mining taking place in West Jaintia Hills district during a trip to the area.

"Coal dumped in a scattered manner in a number of depot(s)/dumping ground were found and the site indicated that recently mined coal, apparently carried by siding trucks or dumper trucks, were dumped in a scattered manner in a number of depot(s)/dumping grounds,” he mentioned in the letter seen by HT.

Leader of Opposition Sangma said the mineral, weighing truckloads, which were dumped in a scattered manner, were being tallied jointly by the deputy commissioner, West Jaintia Hills and divisional mining officer, West Jaintia Hills in presence of the team led by him.

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The total quantity counted was 1,064 truckloads and each truckload must be in the range of 12 to 16 MTs, he emphasised.

“This reveals the fact that the actual quantity of coal at the site was less than 20,000 MTs, while the inquiry report of the DMO, Jowai, vide letter no. DMO-J/R/23/2019/57, dated: Jowai, June 2, 2020, indicated is 1, 41,000 MT (Approximately) as per the figure available in the copy of the replies to RTI enclosed in the representation submitted to you by SN Marak,” Dr Sangma said.

Claiming that he is well-armed with proper facts and figures, Sangma said that illegal coal mining is still taking place in violation of the MMDR Act 1957 (Mines and Minerals Development and Regulation Act) and a blatant violation of the ban by the NGT on illegal coal mining. “It’s a total slap on the face,” he said.

Speaking to HT, Dr Sangma said, “This is just the beginning, we will ensure that everyone responsible for this pillage is addressed accordingly as per provisions of the law,” adding, “It’s not a witchhunt but we will not be ‘Rip Van Winkle’ and pretend to be asleep while our beloved state’s resources are being plundered.”

He quipped, “Perhaps everyone, according to this government’s perception, the honourable apex court and NGT are asleep too, so they cannot see the gross violation taking place but I think a surprise is in the offing.”

The former CM said a huge quantity of illegally mined coal which was submitted in the inquiry report of the divisional mining officer, Jowai, indicating 1,41,000 MT (Approximately) of coal has disappeared and must have been illegally lifted and transported resulting in a serious loss of government revenue.

He further alleged that the scale and magnitude of illegality committed with such ease cannot have happened without well-planned abetment of the offences by those in a position to do so.

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