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TMC steps up attack on Meghalaya govt. over illegal coal trade

Mukul M. Sangma

Mukul M. Sangma

The Trinamool Congress (TMC) in Meghalaya has stepped up its attack on the Conrad K. Sangma government for “patronising” illegal coal mining and transportation in the State.

After former Chief Minister Mukul M. Sangma, who joined the TMC with 11 other Congress MLAs in November 2021, TMC legislator Marthon Sangma said the government was misusing various departments to make money and denying revenue to the State.

“Coal extracted illegally from Meghalaya is being passed off as coal from Assam and exported to Bangladesh. While Assam is getting revenue, a nexus of officials and traders is making money in Meghalaya,” the MLA, who represents the Mendipathar Assembly constituency, told journalists on January 18.

He said the authorities of two districts – North Garo Hills and South Garo Hills – were facilitating the illegal coal trade, and this “cannot happen without patronisation” from the government.The MLA said he called the bluff of officials passing off the coal extracting from the State as belonging to another State because the routes taken for the illegal trade are through his constituency. “I can vouch that not a kg of coal comes from Assam for export to Bangladesh,” he said.

He also said departments such as the Directorate of Mining Resources and Transport should be scrapped if they were no longer useful for Meghalaya.

Earlier, Mr. Mukul Sangma had demanded a court-monitored investigation into the illegal coal trade in the State.

The State’s Deputy Chief Minister, Prestone Tynsong, reacted to the allegations by saying the government should not be blamed for any instance of illegal coal mining and transportation. “There are laws in place and the National Green Tribunal [NGT] is monitoring the activities,” he said.

The NGT had in April 2014 banned the hazardous rat-hole coal mining in Meghalaya and allowed only the extracted coal up to that period to be transported. Activists in the State said mining continued illegally and the coal transported to other parts of India and exported to Bangladesh had far exceeded the “already extracted” volume.

“The government cannot be involved in criminal activities. We have been ensuring that the NGT order is being followed,” Mr. Tynsong said.

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Printable version | May 21, 2022 6:19:27 am | https://www.thehindu.com/news/national/other-states/tmc-steps-up-attack-on-meghalaya-govt-over-illegal-coal-trade/article38290861.ece