HC rejects Meghalaya’s plan on illegal mining, says deploy 10 CISF companies
The Meghalaya high court said the state government had presented a “grandiose” plan that would not only require the state to spend hundreds of crores of rupees to build barracks and buy vehicles but also take a considerable time to implement
SHILLONG: The Meghalaya high court on Monday rejected an elaborate plan to deploy nearly 160 companies of the Central Reserve Police Force (CRPF) to check illegal mining and transportation of coal in the state and instead deploy 10 companies of the Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) which can operate independently.
A company of a central police force has a sanctioned strength of 135 personnel but the operational strength is closer to 100 personnel.
The bench said the state government had presented a “grandiose” plan that would not only require the state to spend hundreds of crores of rupees but also take a considerable time. The high court also noted the Centre’s submission that the CRPF personnel would function under the state’s jurisdiction and that the CISF, which was raised for the security of vital installations, would be more appropriate for the job.
In its order, the bench comprising chief justice Sanjib Bannerjee and justices H Thangkhiew and Justice W Diengdoh frowned at the state’s proposal, saying that the state might run of coal reserves by the time it was implemented.
“Though the state has indicated in great detail the number of companies to be deployed in the 12 districts, including bifurcating the companies which would be involved in checking vehicles and others which would check the mining activities, the cost implication, even on a short-term, temporary basis, may make it infeasible. Indeed, only on account of construction of quarters and barracks, the State has indicated a sum of ₹316 crore and for requisitioning vehicles an annual expenditure in excess of ₹58 crore. At any rate, even if the infrastructure constructed may be put to use by the State upon the CRPF no longer being required, it would take a considerable period to complete the construction and it would be a Herculean task to house 160 companies on a temporary basis. Indeed, the State’s coal reserves may be exhausted by the time the State’s grand design is put in place,” the court said.
Instead, the judges said, “it appears to be fair and reasonable to this court to deploy ten companies, not of CRPF but of CISF. That is because, as the Central government duly points out, the CRPF functions under the command of the state police whereas CISF can function independently. On a query from the court, it is submitted on behalf of the central government that CISF would be able to handle the aspect of checking goods vehicles.”
“While CISF is engaged in checking the vehicles, there is no doubt that it would also check for contraband and ensure that the goods vehicles conform to the weight limits for plying on the state and national highways in Meghalaya,” the court said.
The High Court also asked deputy solicitor general Dr Nitesh Mozika to ascertain the logistics and formalities for ten companies of CISF to be deployed for the purpose of checking the illegal transportation of coal in the state.
The bench said the deployment may not be required in the long term because the state “proposes to open up scientific mining and grant licenses in accordance with law which may make illegal coal mining an unattractive proposition thereafter”.