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NGT panel nod to transportation of 2 lakh MT extracted coal

By The Assam Tribune

SHILLONG, March 12 - Meghalaya Chief Minister Conrad Sangma today said a committee of the National Green Tribunal (NGT) has approved of transportation of two lakh metric tonnes (MT) of coal in the State, provided the safety and environment norms are properly followed.

The NGT committee headed by Justice (retd) BD Agarwal, which met here today, gave the nod for transportation of the two lakh MT of coal on a pilot basis in four districts, the Chief Minister said.

�I am happy to inform stakeholders of coal in our State that the NGT committee has approved on a pilot basis to auction 2 lakh MT out of 32 lakh MT of coal � in East Jaintia Hills 75,000 MT, in West Khasi Hills 50,000 MT, South West Khasi Hills 25,000 MT and in South Garo Hills 50,000 MT,� he told reporters.

Sangma said, �Transparent online auctioning will be conducted by the government-owned MSTC (Metal Scrap and Trading Corporation) Limited. The Government of Meghalaya has no role to play in the auctioning process.�

According to the Chief Minister, the State is likely to benefit by at least Rs 20 crore as revenue from the process. Of the total auction, 10 per cent of the bid value will be deducted by Coal India Limited at source, while the rest will be transferred to the State Government after which royalties will be deducted, he said, adding that the remaining money would be transferred to the respective coal stock owners.

The Chief Minister also warned that illegal extraction or transportation of coal, if found, would attract legal actions under Section 21 of the MMDR Act 1957 (that include a penalty of at least five years imprisonment).

The NGT committee has given the nod with strict instructions that safety and strict environmental norms would be followed. The Chief Minister said temporary depots would be set up across the State to ensure that strict environmental norms are followed during the auctions and during transportation of coal.

He also said that there would be several checks and balances like the presence of CIL officials, foolproof security measures like the QR code, hologram and fugitive ink in four copies of challans. The Chief Minister also informed that the State Government would soon come up with a procedure for environment-friendly and scientific mining.

�The onus now lies in the coal miners to prepare scientific mining plans and get it approved by the Government of India. Every miner has to go through their own process to do that. We have started sensitising the people. We have done sensitising programmes in more than five districts telling them the same,� he said.

Sangma said consultants were identified who would guide the miners even as the State Government is also preparing a draft environment and scientific mining plan.

�Till date, four coal miners have applied for approval. We expect many more to come. I hope that 10-15 more will come to us,� he said.

�We hope that things will move fast. Very soon, mining should start depending on the Government of India�s approval,� the Chief Minister said. � PTI

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