Other States

‘Firms gain from illegal coal mining in Meghalaya’

Sitting ducks: Labourers at a coal mine in East Jaintia Hills district, Meghalaya. File

Sitting ducks: Labourers at a coal mine in East Jaintia Hills district, Meghalaya. File   | Photo Credit: RituRajKonwar

NGT plans legal action against them

Illegal coal mining in Meghalaya has come as a boon to cement factories and captive power plants as they allegedly did not have to pay royalty, taxes and other statutory levies, a report by an independent committee of the National Green Tribunal said.

The panel has recommended legal action against the cement factories and power plants that allegedly evaded paying an amount of over ₹423 crore as royalty and VAT/GST on the illegally mined coal used by them.

The NGT had banned unscientific and unsafe rat-hole mining of coal in Meghalaya in 2014 though it intermittently allowed transportation of already mined coal from time to time.

Rat-hole mining involves digging of narrow tunnels, usually 3-4 feet high, for workers to enter and extract coal.

The horizontal tunnels are often termed “rat-holes”, as each just about fits one person.

“Illegal rat-hole coal mining in the State of Meghalaya came as a boon to these cement manufacturing plants and thermal power plants as it virtually exempted them from payment of royalty, taxes and other statutory levies payable on more than two-third of the coal consumed by them,” the committee, headed by former High Court judge Brojendra Prasad Katakey, said in the report submitted to the NGT last month.

Appointed in August last year, the committee is backed by a representative from the Dhanbad-based Indian School of Mines and the Central Pollution Control Board.

“No royalty, taxes and any other statutory levies have been paid to the State of Meghalaya on the illegally mined coal utilised by these cement plants and thermal plants during the audit period, resulting in a huge loss to the State exchequer,” said the report.

The panel has recommended that the State government, the Ministry of Environment and Forests and the Meghalaya State Pollution Control Board initiate legal action against each of the cement factories and the thermal power plants who used illegally mined local coal after a ban on rat-hole coal mining since April 2014.

The recommendations were made after the committee found out that the cement companies and power subsidiaries had purchased illegally mined coal in the name of “slate”, a non-fuel mineral, to circumvent the ban imposed by the NGT on illegal rat-hole coal mining, the report said.

Why you should pay for quality journalism - Click to know more

Recommended for you
This article is closed for comments.
Please Email the Editor

Printable version | Feb 21, 2020 3:58:35 PM | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/firms-gain-from-illegal-coal-mining-in-meghalaya/article30537317.ece

Next Story