NGT in its order on Friday directed a committee headed by Justice B.D. Agarwal to adopt satellite surveillance systems, electronically record movement of coal including GPS and RFID Tags to monitor illegal export of coal to Bangladesh.
Meghalaya, being a state known for its forests and nature, is also known for ‘Rat Hole Mining’, an unscientific and dangerous way of coal mining, which is primarily only practised in Meghalaya. NGT took cognizance of the matter based on a news report published in July 2012 about thirty coal labourers being trapped in a coal mine and death of fifteen amongst them.
The Principal bench of NGT, headed by Justice Adarsh Goel rejecting the objections put up by State of Meghalaya on the report, stated that the state has created a situation to hamper a credible mechanism set up by this Tribunal.
The court accepted the recommendations of the committee and gave the following directions:
- Keep electronic recording of movement of coal including by way of GPS and RFID tags and have a central server for the same;
- Inspect wings of BSF and vigilance department;
- Establish and supervise check posts and weigh bridges;
- Monitor sourcing of illegally mined coal by cement manufacturing/thermal power plants for enforcement of mining law;
- Prepare geological report and feasibility report for scientific coal mining;
- Finalize mode and manner of handling of coal and its disposal including e-auction;
- Transfer of coal to Coal India Limited and adopt satellite surveillance systems;
- Monitor illegal export of coal to Bangladesh by an independent agency; and
- Adopt satellite surveillance systems.
The bench has also appointed Justice B.D. Agarwal, former Judge of Guwahati High Court as the new Chairman of the Committee, and directed the committee to submit its further action taken report by 30.04.2020.