Illegal coal mining activities still on in Meghalaya: report

Meghalaya government has been claiming that it has curbed illegal mining and transportation of coal.

Updated - November 23, 2023 04:11 pm IST

Published - November 23, 2023 04:10 pm IST - GUWAHATI

Labourers work in a coal depot in Khliehriat town in Jaintia Hills district, about 64 km from Shillong, in Meghalaya. File

Labourers work in a coal depot in Khliehriat town in Jaintia Hills district, about 64 km from Shillong, in Meghalaya. File | Photo Credit: The Hindu


Unauthorised transportation of illegally mined coal is continuing in Meghalaya, an interim report submitted by a special panel to the High Court of Meghalaya said.

In April 2022, the High Court appointed retired judge B. P. Katakey to head a committee to make recommendations on the measures to be taken by the Meghalaya government in compliance with the directives of the Supreme Court and National Green Tribunal (NGT), which had banned rat-hole coal mining in April 2014. One of the tasks was monitoring the coal that had been extracted by the time the ban was made effective.

The report filed before the court on November 22 said there has been no let-up in the transportation of the illegally mined coal. This belied the State government’s claim that illegal mining and transportation of coal in Meghalaya had been curbed.

The report followed the committee’s visits to the coal mining areas in the East Jaintia Hills and other districts of the State. It noticed huge quantities of freshly mined coal dumped near a highway at two strategic places apart from a weighbridge in the midst of the illegally mined coal dumps.

“Presence of such a huge quantity of illegally-mined coal, which is neither part of the earlier inventoried nor seized coal, amply establishes continued illegal coal mining,” the report said.

“A large number of open coal mine pits, without any protection or barricade, have also been noticed,” the report said, noting that these were endangering the lives of all living beings.

Justice Katakey advised the implementation of an action plan for the closure of “thousands of coal mine pits” that are unprotected causing acid mine drainage and polluting the surrounding areas as well as the water in the rivers and the streams.

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