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Nagaland concerned over illegal coal mining

By Bhadra Gogoi

DIMAPUR, Jan 21 - Illegal coal mining in Nagaland leading to environmental degradation has prompted Parliamentary Secretary for Geology & Mining Dr Imtiwapang Aier to embark on a three-day tour to coal mining belts in Mokokchung, Mon and Longleng districts.

Expressing grave concern over illegal coal mining in the State, Dr Aier said his department would write to the village councils concerned to initiate action against illegal coal miners in their jurisdiction.

Talking to media persons during his visit to coal mining areas under Mangkolemba sub-division in Mokokchung district, Dr Aier said if illegal coal mining continues unchecked, it will have a serious impact on the environment. He said the Geology and Mining department is actively considering drawing up a comprehensive plan to address the degradation of fragile environment in mining areas in different parts of the State.

The Parliamentary Secretary squarely blamed the village councils for encouraging miners to engage in coal mining within their jurisdiction by issuing no objection certificate (NOC) which he said is illegal. He said as per Rule 26 of the Nagaland Coal Mining Policy & Rules 2014, village councils shall not issue NOC to any person or company except recommending such cases to the administration for issuing NOC on the merit of the case. He, however, expressed hope that village councils would cooperate with the department to check illegal mining.

In this regard, Dr Aier said his department will be issuing instructions to village councils concerned to identify those legal and illegal miners for necessary action. He also said environment awareness programmes will be launched to sensitise the villagers. At the same time, the stakeholders such as Forest department and Nagaland Pollution Control Board which are issuing clearance certificate for issuing licences to the miners have to do their part to reclaim and for re-plantation of vegetation in those abandoned mines.

OSD, Geology and Mining department, O Koratemjen who accompanied the Parliamentary Secretary, said there are only four licence holders in Mangkolemba who are engaged in coal mining by paying royalty to the department.

The Parliamentary Secretary earlier visited coal mines in Lakhuni area under Japukong range of Mangkolemba sub-division where massive coal mining is going on. He later had a glimpse of coal mining areas and those abandoned ones in Changkikong near Mangkolemba town.

Public of Mangkolemba subdivision, who are silently watching the massive coal mining activities in the area which were once thick forests, are of the opinion that it will have far reaching impact on the entire eco system. They said illegal coal mining is causing massive landslides during monsoon besides polluting air and water bodies.

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