SHILLONG, June 17 � After a ban imposed by the National Green Tribunal on unscientific rat-hole mining of coal in Meghalaya, the State government has now been rapped by the CAG for not taking effective steps to control acid mine drainage as suggested by the pollution control boards.
�No efforts have been made by the State government either to implement the recommendations made by the Meghalaya State Pollution Control Board (MSPCB) or take alternative effective steps to control AMD (acid mine drainage),� the Comptroller and Auditor General of India said in its latest report available here today.
The State pollution control board, which began investigation in 2011 into the sudden death of fishes in Lukha River in Jaintia Hills district, submitted its report, including recommendations to the Mining and Geology Department and all the Deputy Commissioners in 2012 for information and necessary action, the CAG said. This resulted in considerable damage to the environment in the form of AMD due to unscientific mining, it said.
The acid mine drainage (AMD) is the outflow of acidic water from coal mines, coal stocks and coal handling facilities which resulted in acidification of water bodies rendering them unfit for drinking purposes and disruption in growth and reproduction of aquatic plant and organism, besides causing corroding effects on infrastructure, including dams and bridges.
One of the major impacts of the AMD from coal mines in Meghalaya was on the 275 MW Kopili power project in Assam, which feeds on water from catchment areas in coal mining areas of Meghalaya.
The acidic water caused severe corrosion to the machinery, causing frequent power outages due to the failure of cooler tubes and cooling water pipes in the power station, the CAG said quoting a NEEPCO report in 2006-07.
The matter got worse in 2008-09 with the Central Water Commission, Central Electricity Authority and Central Soil and Material Research Station confirming that acidic water had affected the plant, requiring changes of equipment, the report said. As a result, the Kopili power project suffered 336 power outages during the period from 2009 to 2013, incurring a loss of 972.28 million units estimated at Rs 103.79 crore.
In an embarrassment to the State government for its failure to take action against illegal rat-hole mining of coal, the National Green Tribunal has banned mining and transportation of coal in the entire State in its interim order in May last. The order came following a petition filed by the Assam-based All Dimasa Students� Union on April 2 blaming the illegal rat-hole mining in Meghalaya�s Jaintia hills district as the root cause of pollution and acidification of Kopili River.
The Meghalaya government has assured a separate fund for reclaiming all the degraded lands caused by acid mine drainage and make them fit for vegetation and farming activities, Chief Minister Mukul Sangma told the Assembly recently. � PTI