SHILLONG, Oct 7 � Coal mining ban has not been lifted in Meghalaya by the National Green Tribunal (NGT) during its hearing here today, after the tribunal dismissed a fresh petition to revoke its April 17 ban order, but it came out with some important rulings.
During its hearing held here at the Meghalaya High Court, the NGT Chairperson, Justice Swatanter Kumar, judicial member UD Salvi, expert members, Devendra Kumar Agrawal and PC Mishra, dismissed a petition to allow coal mining in the State. However, the tribunal did provide some relief to the agitating coal miners� group of the State, which was fighting for relaxation on royalty on coal.
The tribunal has ruled that the already extracted coal can be transported by paying royalty in three equal installments, within 45 days from the date of lifting of coal for transportation. The directive earlier was for paying the royalty in a single installment after lifting the extracted coal for transportation.
The tribunal said that as per its record there are 6.3 million ton of coal lies extracted in different parts of the State with a value of Rs 3,078 crore. The royalty payable to the State Government is about Rs 400 crore.
However, it observed that there are discrepancies in the various reports about the amount of coal as the miners have given a higher figure of coal extracted than the NGT-constituted committee, which has assessed the extracted resource. So the tribunal ruled that royalty would be paid on whichever figure is higher - assessed by the NGT-committee or as being given by the coal miners.
The tribunal further directed the NGT-committee to submit a fresh report into the mining activities in Meghalaya with emphasis on mining plan, policy to ensure scientific harness of the natural resources and measures to safeguard human lives and the environment and restoration measures for the acidic water systems.
It said that the committee should take the assistance of agencies like the Central Mine Planning and Design Institute Limited to conduct scientific survey on mining pollution and also map the entire coal reserve in Meghalaya.
�There should be pollution free mining to protect human beings and the environment, to keep flora and fauna intact and there should be no further deterioration of water bodies,� the tribunal said.
The tribunal said that it would be passing orders in the near future to prevent environmental pollution in the State and the coal miners would be asked to �compensate� for the destruction.
On the brighter side for the coal miners, the tribunal asked the committee to comply with its directives swiftly so that mining could be allowed once again, albeit with regulations and safely measures in place to protect the environment and human lives.
It further said that it is the responsibility of the State government to ensure that the environment is not subjected to pollution and degradation. The next date of hearing has been fixed on December 8 and 9 here.