SC bans coal transportation in Meghalaya after Jan 31
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SC bans coal transportation in Meghalaya after Jan 31

Citing the recent incidents of miners getting trapped, the Supreme Court said that it shows that the state government has failed to contain illegal mining.

india Updated: Jan 15, 2019 23:41 IST
HT Correspondent
HT Correspondent
Hindustan Times
meghalaya miners,Supreme court
The Supreme Court on Tuesday hauled up the Meghalaya government on the issue of illegal coal mining in the state.(AFP)

The Supreme Court on Tuesday pulled up the Meghalaya government for continued illegal mining in the state while refusing to extend a window that allowed the transportation of coal already extracted from various sites in the state.

“The recent incident shows that illegal mining is going on in the state. You may not support it but you have failed to contain it,” the court told the Meghalaya government’s lawyer.

Also read: Absence of blueprint hindering in rescue of trapped Meghalaya miners: Centre tells Supreme Court

The court was referring to the miners trapped in a coal mine for over a month in the state. Rescuers have failed to evacuate or even locate the miners. Authorities have admitted that the mine is illegal and there is no blueprint to help them work out a rescue operation.

The lawyer defended the government’s role saying it had taken “adequate measures” to rescue the miners.

“And still illegal mining is happening. Do not say adequate. The word you are using is wrong. If that was so this would not have happened. Have you ever checked areas where illegal mining is going on and ordered a clampdown?” Justice A K Sikri said in response to the lawyer.

Also read: Workers must not suffer, says Supreme Court on trapped Meghalaya miners

A justice Sikri-led bench also refused to grant another extension to the state government and coal miners to transport the coal that has been already extracted for sale. The court had on December 5 allowed the transportation of coal until January 31. Meghalaya chief minister Conrad Sangma said that “various procedures” have been implemented since the court last extended the time to transport coal. He added that the state government would “appeal to the court to let this [transportation of coal] continue”.

Also read: ‘Just want the bodies’: 21 days on, families of trapped Meghalaya miners lose hope

“But in the interim, we will abide by the court’s ruling and no transportation of coal will be allowed once we receive the order,” Sangma said.

The Supreme Court court also asked Meghalaya to give a report on whether any survey has been carried out in the state to identify areas, where illegal mining is on and what steps have been taken to curb it. It said that it might ask a panel to auction the extracted coal instead of letting the private miners sell it.

Also read: Curse of the black gold: How Meghalaya depends on coal

First Published: Jan 15, 2019 12:22 IST