Govt urged to look into repercussions of NGT order

SHILLONG: While expressing concern over the National Green Tribunal order of imposing a blanket ban on the mining activities across the State which has more than 150000 families, Movement for Indigenous People’s Rights and Livelihood Meghalaya (MIPRLM) member Erwin K Sutnga said that the Chief Minister Dr Mukul Sangma has assured that he will try his level best to follow up this matter with the Central Government.

“He (Chief Minister) informed that the Government is evolving some strategy to address this problem,” Sutnga informed after the meeting with the Chief Minister here on Thursday.

He also said that they have also arrived into an agreement with the State Government that no more laws should be implemented which would affect tradional right of the local indigneous people.

“We have also agreed that substantial issued is not only NGT. Moreover, ensuring that our traditoinal rgiht destroyed people are made aware that we enjoy a special position under the Constitution especially under the Sixth Scheduled,” Sutnga said.

Meanwhile, he admitetd that the environment should be protected and adequate measures should be taken to protect the environment as this is somethign which is precious to us.

“It is heritage which we would have to hand over to our children. We have unanimously resolved to support with the on the adqueate measures adopted by the Government to protect the environment,” MIPRLM member said.

Meanwhile, in a representative submitted to the Chief Minister, he said the situation is volatile with the majority of the people feeling frustrated, angry and ready to explode if the situation is allowed to continue without immediate and aggressive intervention on the part of the Government.

“The NGT has imposed the ban without any ground survey, assessment of the economic impact and the widespread economic deprivation of the people involved in the coal mining sector. Over 1,50,000 families who have been directly affected and the overall economic loss to the state is incalculable. The human tragedy that is about to unfold will totally cripple the economy of Meghalaya,” Sutnga said.

While referring to the statement of Chief Secretary PBO Wajri that there is no rat hole mining in Meghalaya and the people use their “scientific wisdom” to execute mining projects, he said that this is especially true in all coal areas especially in Cherrapunjee where mining was started since time immemorial and where agricultural pursuits are not possible due to the climatic conditions and coal mining is the backbone of the economy of Sohra (Cherrapunjee) and its surrounding areas.

Meanwhile, he said that the insistence on the above Form 1, Application for mining lease by the Mining and Geology Department is a violation of our traditional and customary rights over tribal land which is inalienable and guaranteed by the Constitution of India and the Sixth Schedule which is part of the inherent agreement at the time of integration of Khasi and Jaintia Tribal lands into India in 1950.

MIPRLM member suggested that it is necessary to make provisions for proper rehabilitation of the environment by sanctioning of funding for the Government of Meghalaya and the Autonomous District Councils and ensuring implementation of proper state and ADC laws to regulate mining and restore and protect the environment by way of not a Mining Lease but a Mining Permit which will not affect the traditional rights of our people.

“Apart from this it is necessary to also make provisions for rehabilitation of the affected people by linking environmental rehabilitation and restoration with a relief package to the people especially from the Compensatory Afforestation Fund Management and Planning Authority (CAMPA) of the Union Ministry of Environment and Forest as well as for government to create alternative livelihood opportunities for these people,” he added.

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