NGT relief for coal owners

Tribunal okays transportation of extracted coal till May 31

Our Bureau

NEW DELHI/SHILLONG:  In a partial relief to the coalmine owners, the National Green Tribunal (NGT) on Wednesday allowed transportation of extracted coal till May 31 and at the same fixed the last date of payment of royalty as April 16.
The hearing on the ban on coal mining in Meghalaya by the NGT resumed on Wednesday after two adjournments.
Informing this in Shillong on Wednesday, Meghalaya Commercial Truck Owners’ and Operators Association President Augustine Shangpru said that the NGT also asked the state government to submit its mining plan within 6 weeks time after which future course of action with regard to coal mining in Meghalaya would be decided.
“The NGT has also directed the state government in categorical terms to make weighbridges in the state operational within a period of four weeks.
The NGT during Wednesday’s hearing took into consideration report of five independent environment comm-issioners, appointed by the Tribunal, regarding South West Khasi Hills.
“In the report we have categorically stated there will be bigger environmental catastrophe if the extracted coal is not removed before the onset of monsoon,” said Naba Bhattachajee, one of five independent environment commis-sioners.
“All water bodies shall be polluted with surface runoff from coal lying overground in stock, washed and leached by heavy rains”, the report said.
It may be mentioned here that the Tribunal had appointed five independent environment commissioners to conduct independent inspections at the weigh bridges and mines and see if the orders passed by the tribunal are being followed in letter and spirit. Besides Bhattachajee, other local commissioners are advocate JB Kharbhhih, retired IPS officer K Rymbui and Vikash Pradhan and Rosanna Lyngdoh (both environmentalists). The tribunal also ordered creation of the Meghalaya Environment Protection Fund as suggested by the local commissioners.
The next hearing will take place in Shillong on April 21.

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