SHILLONG, June 9 � In a major boost for environmentalists and setback for the coal-miners, the National Green Tribunal (NGT) today did not revoke its rat-hole coal mining ban in Meghalaya and extended the ban till August. The NGT, however, permitted the extracted coal to be traded.
The Tribunal�s special circuit bench, eastern zone, which held its hearing at the Meghalaya High Court and was chaired by Justice Swatanter Kumar and expert member Ranjan Chaterjee, passed the order much to the dismay of those involved in the coal mining industry who had gathered from all over the State, besides neighbouring State of Assam.
The Tribunal ruled that the ban on rat-hole coal mining would be in place until the next hearing on August 1. During this period, the State Government and the coal miners have the opportunity to work out a comprehensive mechanism to prevent environmental degradation due to coal mining.
The NGT further said that the already extracted coal which has been lying in the State would be allowed to be shipped and sold. The Tribunal earlier had also put a ban on transportation of coal from the State. This order now stands revoked.
But before that, a six-member committee would be formed to prepare the inventory of the extracted coal. The committee would submit its report to the NGT within a week.
The royalty recovered from this extracted coal would be distributed between the district council and the government and this amount would be spent on land reclamation scheme.
The NGT put an interim ban on rat-hole coal mining in Meghalaya after the Assam-based All Dimasa Student�s Union and Dima Hasao District Committee filed a petition before it, stating that the acidic discharge from unscientific coal mines of Meghalaya was polluting the Kopili river.
The Tribunal heard the matter and put the ban not only on mining, but also on transportation of coal from the State and directed the State DGP to submit a compliance report, which the State Government placed before the Tribunal today.
Meanwhile, in another case related to coal mining, in which 15 coal miners have been reported missing from a 2012 coal mine accident in South Garo Hills, the NGT has ordered that witnesses should be produced during the next hearing on the case slated on August 1.
The NGT was further not convinced regarding a National Disaster Response Force (NDRF) report that nobody were found inside the mine. In the next hearing, there would be cross-examination of all the parties involved in the case.
HNLC Bandh: After the National Green Tribunal extended its ban order on rat-hole coal mining, the banned Hynniewtrep National Liberation Council (HNLC) today called a 24-hour bandh on June 10 from 6 pm.