Mukul denies delay by CM’s Office

By Our Reporter

 SHILLONG: Chief Minister Dr Mukul Sangma on Thursday rejected the statement of Deputy Chief Minister Bindo M Lanong that the Meghalaya Mineral Policy (MMP) has been gathering dust in the Chief Minister’s office for the past four months.

Talking to media persons here in the city, Dr Sangma said, “The statement is not correct and the Deputy CM should have given a correct picture about the status of the Policy.”

According to Dr Sangma, the Government is committed to come out with an appropriate Policy which would be transparent and acceptable to all.

The statement came from the Chief Minister a day after Lanong stated that the Policy is lying in the Chief Minister’s office for the past four months after the necessary approval by the Mining and Geology department.

“The Meghalaya Minerals Policy was brought before the Cabinet and was found wanting in certain critical areas. The Department was asked to incorporate certain clauses to strike a reasonable balance in the context of Meghalaya since land here belongs to individuals and communities and not to the State. We cannot just brush aside the historical rights of people. Moreover, there is need to bring in the element of transparency so that there is less room for corruption,” Dr Sangma asserted.

“The Policy was sent back to the Mining and Geology Department with the brief that it should be re-worked and brought back to the Cabinet. How could the Department have recast the Policy if it was lying in my office?” Dr Sangma queried.

Dr Sangma said there were different levels of clearances and it was important to set a time line for each clearance. The MMP was again presented before the Cabinet last week so if everything is in order it will go to the Assembly.

“It is the firm commitment of this Government to come out with a Mineral Policy that is fool-proof to the extent possible,” Dr Sangma said.

It may be mentioned that the Policy has been hanging fire since 2005 and the State Cabinet had deferred the passage of the proposed Bill on two occasions citing lapses that needed to be addressed.

The Supreme Court had directed the State Government to draft a Mining Policy in 2005. It is now 2012 but the policy remains in draft form.

As per the statement of the Mining and Geology Minister Bindo M Lanong, the Policy will not put a blanket ban on rat-hole mining prevalent in the State.

What the Policy will do is to put in place measures to curb illegal extraction of minerals, to ensure the safety of miners and to help obviate environmental degradation, amongst others, he had said.

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