Meghalaya Deputy Chief Minister, Prestone Tynsong said that the respective deputy commissioners and superintendents of police have been asked to take action against illegal coal mining and its transportation in the state.
“We have issued a standing order asking the district administration to be more proactive in taking action against such illegal activity if it is happening to make sure that no illegality happens in the state,” Tynsong told reporters on Friday.
“We also keep saying to the district administrations – DCs and SPs – and all concerned departments in the district level that you please be proactive and make sure illegalities do not happen,” he added.
Tynsong was reacting to the allegation of the Leader of Opposition and former chief minister Mukul Sangma that illegal mining and transportation of coal is continuing in the state.
In his letter to the state’s chief secretary, MS Rao on Thursday, Sangma had asked the government to enforce the relevant sections of the Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Act, 1957 to prevent further illegal mining and transportation of coal in the state.
“…it is imperative to enforce the Sub-Section (1) of the Section 21 of the Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Act 1957 in relation to Sub-Section (6) of Section 21 of MMDR Act 1957 to prevent further illegal coal mining and its transportation thereof and punishment of perpetrators of the crime as per law ; and (ii) Initiate legal proceeding as per the relevant provisions of Prevention of Corruption Act 1988 to protect the interest of the state,” Sangma wrote.
Sangma also informed that he had made a visit to Khliehrangnah, Shangpung, West Jaintia Hills district on October 28, last year to verify the truth from the ground zero, after receiving a copy of the representation submitted to the chief secretary by one whistle blower.
“Upon arrival at the site, as led by the Deputy Commissioner, Jowai and Divisional Mining Officer, Jowai, coal dumped in a scattered manner in number of depot(s)/dumping ground were found and the site indicated that recently mined coal, apparently carried by siding trucks or dumper trucks, were dumped in a scattered manner in number of depot(s)/dumping grounds. The respective truck loads, which were dumped in a scattered manner, were counted jointly by the Deputy Commissioner, Jowai and Divisional Mining Officer, Jowai in presence of the team led by me and amenuscripted copy indicating the number of truck loads duly signed on the spot by both DC, Jowai and DMO, jowai, was handed over to me. The total quantity counted was 1064 truck loads and each truck loads must be in the range of 12 to 16 MTs,” he said.
The former chief minister further stated that this reveals the fact that the actual quantity of coal at the site was less than 20,000 MTs, while the enquiry report of the Divisional Mining Officer (DMO) Jowai, vide letter dated June 2, 2020, indicated is 1,41,000 MT (approximately) as per the figure available in the copy of the replies to RTI enclosed in the representation submitted to you by SN Marak.
Stating that illegal coal mining is still taking place in violation of MMDR Act, 1957 and the complete violation of the NGT ban, Sangma also alleged that 1,41,000 MT of coal have disappeared and must have been illegally lifted and transported resulting in serious loss of government revenue.
“That the same instance of illegality in respect to illegal coal mining and transportation of illegally mined coal without any royalty to the government was brought to the notice of the government through Press briefing and also in course of proceedings in the floor of the House during the last Assembly Session in November 2020,” he said.
Slamming the government for its inaction on the matter, the leader of opposition said, “The silence of the government in this regard and refusal to act is against the interest of the state.”
“Further, the findings on the spot in respect of quantity of illegally mined coal, as assessed and duly authenticated by both the Deputy Commissioner and Divisional Mining Officer of Jowai which is far less than the actual quantity of coal earlier assessed and officially communicated by the Divisional Mining Officer to the Deputy Commissioner, Jowai proves, beyond any doubt, that the coal earlier dumped at the said location have been illegally transported without payment of royalty, cess etc,” he said while adding that the scale and magnitude of illegality committed with such an ease cannot have happened without well planned abetment of the offences.