Coal transport has Centre’s blessings: CM

‘Powerful’ cement cos influenced ministry: MLA

SHILLONG: Chief Minister Conrad Sangma has justified the import of coal from Assam for the cement companies in Jaintia Hills.
He also said the state government may go for the first auction of the two lakh metric tonnes of coal within the next 2-3 weeks.
Revealing this while replying to a call attention motion in the Assembly on Friday, the chief minister said that the state government had prepared a plan for e-auction of coal and submitted it to Coal India Limited after being approved by NGT Committee on a pilot basis.
Stating that 75000 metric tonnes of the two lakh metric tonnes would be for East Jaintia Hills, he said that the auction notice would be issued shortly.
Earlier, he said that cement companies in East Jaintia Hills are being allowed to transport coal from Assam as per the guidelines of the Ministry of Home Affairs since it has allowed interstate and intrastate movement of trucks with strict adherence to protocols.
According to Sangma, as the state government on May 1 allowed cement companies to operate with 50 per cent work capacity, three companies — Star Cement, Meghalaya Cement and Dalmia Cements — requested the government to allow them to transport coal from the railway siding in Guwahati since the coal was in transit and had arrived at the railway station before the lockdown, and even Railways was asking the companies to lift the coal stock.
Initially, 30 trucks were allowed to operate and restrictions were lifted later with strict norms that the route should be from Byrnihat, driver and handyman should be screened at the entry point, vehicles should not stop on the way and drivers should leave the site immediately after unloading the coal.
Informing that there will be maximum protection when the trucks move, he said the DC and SP have been directed to ensure the trucks do not stop along the highway where there are villages.
He also said that the MHA has allowed trucks to move keeping in mind the economy of the country and this order is applicable in the entire country even as he added that people in the district are opposing the transport of coal due to health concerns arising out of COVID-19.
Earlier, while moving the call attention motion, Congress MLA HM Shangpliang said that cement plants in the state are so powerful that they convinced the ministry to allow them to transport the coal.
He also said that while people in the district cannot touch their own coal, yet the cement companies have been allowed to bring coal from outside.

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