CAG raps state govt for illegal coal mining, transportation

NGT ban violation rampant since 2014

SHILLONG: The CAG report has rapped the Meghalaya government over its inability to check illegal extraction and transportation of coal even after the order of the NGT in 2014.
The CAG report of March 31, 2018 tabled in the Assembly on Friday said during the assessment of available extracted coal in September 2014, it was found that against the declaration made by the miners, a large number of coal owners had made false declarations without having any commensurate coal stock.
The audit analysis of the mining department records revealed that 3670 miners out of 7431 miners reported more stock than what was available with them even as the report added that the mining and geology department did not maintain a proper database about the declared quantity, assessed coal and royalty payable by individual miners.
According to the report, the NGT in its order declared rat-hole mining as an illegal activity in Meghalaya and the state government issued notification in this regard directing the Directorate of Mineral Resources (DMR) officials to comply with the NGT order but the audit noticed that transportation of illegally extracted coal was going on even after the government notification.
Audit observed that all six DMR check gates reported 26,635 coal trucks exiting the state during May 2014 as against a movement of 15,919 coal trucks during the same month of previous year when there was no ban on transportation of coal.
The report said that due to delay in issuing notification and its timely communication to the filed officers, illegal transportation of coal increased by 67 per cent in May 2014 and at least 2.4 lakh MT of coal valued at Rs 116.26 crore was transported out of the state illegally.
The CAG recommended that the mining and geology department should investigate the source of coal transported and initiate action against the persons concerned for submitting false affidavits. The CAG also wanted action against the officials.
The report also stated that mineral transport challans were issued in excess of assessed coal stock while adding that the record keeping in mining department was poor and it did not maintain records miner-wise detailing the declared and assessed coal stock, royalty payable, the challans issued and leftover stock in position.
During the audit, it was observed that the authorities had noticed three cases of illegal mining and 847 cases of transportation of illegally extracted coal involving 24750 MT after NGT prohibition.
It also said that the audit team in East Jaintia Hills on July 2018 noticed huge coal stocks lying on the road and after the transportation phase allowed by the Supreme Court ended on May 31, 2018 there was only 20000 MT of coal stock left in the state and a joint inspection was conducted on August 28, 2018 on three sites – Rymbai, Lad Sutnga and Dkhiah village in East Jaintia Hills.
During inspection, 12 mining sites were seen in Dkiah village and in each of these sites extracted coal measuring between 10-20 thousand MT was lying dumped outside the coal mining pits. Labour camps and cranes were also seen at the site.
To examine the compliance of the NGT order, audit approached the Commissioners of Taxes and Transport, Assam and Shillong Customs Division to ascertain the number of trucks carrying coal from Meghalaya passing through Assam or to Bangladesh.
Scrutiny of records of Transport department, Assam for 2017-18 revealed that officials of two Assam Transport check gates detected 3913 overloaded coal trucks exiting Meghalaya with a total excess load of 25.37 thousand MT and they collected fine of Rs 3.31 crore.
It stated that the DC, Cachar District also ordered an inspection in January 2018 and during the period from January 22, 2018 to March 21, 2018, the team detected 1373 overloaded trucks from Meghalaya with a total load of 35.60 MT and the team collected penalty of Rs 3.83 crore for overloading.
The Transport Commissioner of Assam on three occasions requested the DMR to convene a joint meeting for checking overloading trucks but there was no action.
The report mentioned that the CAG in 2012-13 had also detected illegal coal mining and transportation.

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