Supreme Court allows coal mining in Meghalaya with riders, Govt ropes in agencies to prepare mining plan

Shillong July 3: The Meghalaya government has roped in two agencies to help the state to prepare mining plans, even as the Supreme Court has allowed resumption of coal mining in the state by strictly adhering to regulations.

The Supreme Court in its judgment passed on Wednesday has allowed coal mining in privately or community owned land in Meghalaya in accordance with approved mining plan as per the Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulations) Act, 1957 and Mineral Concessions Rules, 1960.

Deputy chief minister, Prestone Tynsong told reporters that the Meghalaya Democratic Alliance government was well ahead in engaging the Central Mine Planning and Design Institute (CMPDI), and the Mineral Exploration Corporation Limited since last year to help prepare mining plans for the state.

Stating that people have suffered since 2014 in view of the ban on coal mining by the National Green Tribunal, Tynsong said that the apex court’s judgment has confirmed that land and minerals belonged to the people of the state.

He said that the ban on coal mining has affected the economy of the state since 2014 especially when the state’s revenue from coal used to be Rs 600 crore annually.

“The objective of mining plan is to blend it with the MMDR Act for mining,” Tynsong said.

Though the NGT order has been set aside by the Supreme Court, Tynsong however said that mining has to take place without compromising safety of miners and protection of the environment.

When asked how the state government would accept mining in accordance with the provisions of the MMDR Act when the state government in the past had demanded from the Centre to invoke Para 12 A (b) of the Sixth Schedule through a presidential notification to exempt Meghalaya from Central laws like the MMDR Act and Coal Mines (Nationalization) Act, Tynsong said, “now the Supreme Court has confirmed that the right to ownership over the land and minerals is with the people.”

Tynsong alleged that the previous Congress-led government and former chief minister, Mukul Sangma did nothing to get the ban on coal mining lifted, whereas the present MDA government led by chief minister, Conrad K Sangma pursued the matter with the Centre, strengthen the legal team and also challenged against the NGT order in Supreme Court.

On extracted coal to be auctioned by Coal India as directed by the Supreme Court, Tynsong said that according to an affidavit filed by the state government, the remaining quantity of extracted coal is between 36 lakh and 37 lakh metric tons.