NGT to take up ban on coal mining today

SHILLONG: The National Green Tribunal (NGT) Special Circuit Bench of the Eastern Zone will hold its hearing at the High Court of Meghalaya on Monday from 10 am onwards.

The NGT will conduct a hearing on the interim ban on rat-hole coal mining and transportation of coal, alleged presence of child labourers in the coal mines, and the July 6, 2012, incident in South Garo Hills where 15 miners were reportedly trapped in a mine.

Earlier, the hearing was supposed to be held at the State Convention Centre, Shillong.

Sources revealed that besides the State Government, the hearing will also have representations from the Meghalaya State Pollution Control Board, State Coordination Committee of Coal Miners’ and Dealers’ Forum, Khasi Hills Autonomous District Council, Union Ministry of Environment and Forests and the Union Coal Ministry.

The hearing will be chaired by NGT Chairperson Justice Swatanter Kumar who will be accompanied by NGT expert member Ranjan Chatterjee, former Meghalaya Chief Secretary.

Both Kumar and Chatterjee have already arrived in Shillong on Sunday.

Meanwhile, the Coal Miners’ and Dealers’ Forum (a conglomerate of coal mine owners and dealers’ associations) have collected data about the total quantity of extracted coal which are lying in various coal depots across the State.

Sources on Sunday informed that as per the assessment, around 85 lakh tonnes of extracted coal is lying in thousands of coal depots spread across the State.

“The forum will present the data to the NGT during the hearing,” sources said.

According to people engaged in the coal trade, it would take at least one year to dispose of the extracted coal at prevailing market rates.

“If we are given less than one year we will be subjected to tremendous price undercut by buyers as they know we cannot sell so much coal in a short span of time,” a coal mine owner said adding, “I pray and hope that the NGT understands this and grants us the concession. We cannot sell our product like rotten vegetables.”

Earlier, the HNLC had threatened a 24-hour bandh on June 10 from 6 pm to the next day 6 pm if the National Green Tribunal (NGT) does not lift the ban on rat hole mining during its hearing on June 9 in Shillong.

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