The news item, “Riwar Mihngi stops LPG distribution” (ST Sep 7, 2018) caught a number of us consumers by surprise as we had no idea about this sudden “arbitrary decision” taken by the Riwar Mihngi Gas Agency. We were taken aback when we read in the newspaper that Riwar Mihngi had sent messages to its consumers regarding the transfer of our connections to Longkmie Gas Agency as many of us never received any such message from the Agency. If we had not read about it in the newspaper we would have never known. As per the news report, the message from Riwar says that consumers are to contact their new distributor, Longkmie Gas Agency. That was exactly what was done but only to be told by the staff at Longkmie that the new distributor is not Longkmie but Mecofed Gas Agency, Lumdiengjri. On making a call to Mecofed Gas Agency we were told that they have no information yet and are in fact clueless about this new arrangement. In fact, the staff asked to enquire after a few days. Hence the only other option was to contact, Riwar Mihngi Gas Agency. But the Agency refused to answer calls so one had to visit the office. There the staff informed that in a few days time each and every consumer will receive a text message from their end with information about our new distributor.
Now isn’t this harassment of the highest order? Why are consumers left in the dark in the first place? Why did so many of us to have to hear of this news only form a newspaper report? Why are we made to run helter skelter? Why didn’t Riwar Mihngi Gas Agency notify every single consumer? If at all, text messages were sent, why didn’t the Gas Agency send it to all? Isn’t it the duty of Riwar Mihngi to notify all its consumers well before hand? What assurance do they give us that we will still get our gas cylinders well on time without missing a single month’s quota?
It is also a matter of concern if Longkmie Gas Agency would now be in a position to take all the consumers back into its fold. We all know that four years back a temporary arrangement was made with Riwar Mihngi as the workload was too much for Longkmie Gas Agency. If it was a temporary arrangement why was it not converted into a permanent arrangement? Why should consumers be made to suffer?
It is indeed surprising to read that the Deputy Commissioner (DC), East Khasi Hills District was also kept in the dark. Where is the role of the DC (Supply) in this matter? Are there no policies, rules, regulations that govern the different gas agencies? Can any gas agency supersede authority and arbitrarily function as per its whims and fancies? The DC said that action would be taken and one hopes that action will definitely be taken against such gas agencies for taking things so casually when the issue involves over two thousand consumers and households. As consumers of Riwar Mihngi we urge upon the authorities concerned to kindly take urgent corrective measure in this matter so that unsuspecting consumers are not left in the lurch.
On illegal mining of limestone
The news report “Illegal Limestone mining in West Jaintia Hills” (ST Sep 10, 2018) points to the fact that illegal mining in Meghalaya is still taking place on the ground and is not mere speculation or presumption. I wish to inform the authorities in Meghalaya and the court that I have met some limestone exporters just recently and I have learnt from them that limestone export to Bangladesh continues on a large scale because limestone mining continues unabated. Now the question is whether limestone mining which is continuing in many places in Meghalaya is being carried out with appropriate and legal mining leases or whether many of them are done illegally as those being mined in Nongtalang of West Jaintia Hills? I know for a fact that the western slopes of Meghalaya right from Jaintia Hills, Khasi Hills and Garo Hills bordering Bangladesh are Limestone, Coal and Uranium rich belts and illegal mining of limestone and coal are still being carried out surreptitiously by coal and limestone mine owners against the ban by the NGT. Those in authority know this very well but choose to look the other way. This is vindicated by the fact that truckloads of coal are often being apprehended at various checkpoints in the state. Why don’t the police catch those responsible right at the mining site? Is it because they are under instructions from the top or are they abetting this blatant violation?
Meghalaya Government has moved the authorities in the Union Government and the apex court for exempting/ lifting the ban on coal/ limestone mining in Meghalaya but till date the issue is hanging fire in the court. How long can the Government wait when people are suffering? It has to use all wisdom at its command to get the ban lifted immediately. Otherwise the promises given during the 2018 general elections will boomerang it. However, if coal, limestone and other minerals are allowed to be mined, such activities ought to be done using the best of technologies to ensure scientific mining in order not to harm the environment.