Wednesday, February 8, 2023

Imposing a blanket ban on mining in Meghalaya

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Imposing a blanket ban on mining in Meghalaya, the National Green Tribunal directed the state government to ensure that all no unregulated, illegal, indiscriminate mining is carried on by any person in the state and all the mines are sealed forthwith as per law. It also refused to extend the deadline of May 15 given to the state government to transport the already mined coal.

The tribunal was hearing an application filed by All Dimasa Students Union Dima Hasao District Committee and Impulse NGO Network alleging that serious air, water and environmental pollution was being caused by illegal rat-hole mining which was being carried on in various parts of the state, affecting the environment as well as ecological system in the areas.

The green panel also directed that the entire remaining coal shall be seized by the state government, and the onus of disposing it of will lie on it, at the same time ensuring that it is done in accordance with law subject to due protection and care for environment and prevention of pollution resulting there from either by washing of coal or by transportation.

The NGT also constituted a committee that has been directed to visit areas in the state where mining has been rampant, and submit a report to the tribunal in case illegal mining or transportation of coal was still going on. It also directed the state government to give a report on the measures it plans to take to restore and rejuvenate the environment and ecology, specially protection of water bodies that have been affected because of unregulated mining that has taken place over the years.

In the application filed before the green panel, the petitioners had specifically alleged that Kopili river was dangerously polluted by discharge of various effluents from the acid mine drainage and the colour of the river water has become dark brown, affecting the sources of drinking water.

Rapping the state government for not doing enough, the tribunal said, “We are not at all impressed by the contentions. Whether these are private mines or they are mines which are on the lands other than private lands, yet they cannot carry on this activity in an unregulated, indiscriminate and illegal  manner without compliance with the laws in force.”

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