Accused in activists’ assault case gets nod to transport coal

NGT panel seeks report from government

SHILLONG: The state government has allowed transportation of auctioned coal by NPP leader Nidamon Chullet, who is the main accused in the assault of two activists.
In a recent order, the government allowed transportation of 809 metric tonnes (MT) of auctioned coal lying at 13th Mile Tamulkuchi based on the letter and documents received from the Ri Bhoi deputy commissioner.
The coal was disposed of by auction in favour of Chullet, who is from Mynkrem Shangpung in West Jaintia Hills. The transportation will be allowed till October 31.
The NGT committee headed by retired Gauhati high court judge B P Katakey has already sought a report regarding the matter.
Chullet had led the attack on Agnes Kharshiing and Amita Sangma on November 8 last year for probing illegal coal mining and transportation.
When contacted, an official said as per the Supreme Court order, illegally mined coal seized by the state will not be handed over to Coal India Ltd and it will be dealt as per Section 21 of the MMDR Act, 1957, which authorises the state to take action.
The official added that since the coal was seized during illegal transportation and offloading of overloaded trucks, the court of the Chief Judicial Magistrate, Nongpoh, had allowed disposal through public auction and hence there is no violation. Only the already extracted coal assessed by the deputy commissioners (32 lakh MT) will be handed over to Coal India for disposal through electronic auction, the official added.
When asked about allowing Chullet to transport coal, the official refused to comment on the matter and added that the government will have to take a decision on the matter.
Delay in auction policy
Katakey said on Sunday that he was yet to receive information about the finalisation of coal auction policy by the state government.
A meeting with Coal India was scheduled on October 23 but it was postponed.
Earlier, the government had sent a draft coal auction policy to Coal India for consideration. However, the latter wanted a discussion with the government before finalising the policy.
Report on illegalities
The NGT panel also sought a report on the detection of over 50 coal-laden trucks at DMR check gate at Tamabil in Dawki recently. The attempt was to use fake challans to transport illegally mined coal to Bangladesh. Katakey said the government is yet to submit a report regarding the matter.
The NGT committee also asked for a report on illegal dumping of coal at a hidden site in a forest in East Garo Hills for later shipment. A case has been registered with Williamnagar police.
A group of villagers informed East Garo Hills district officials that a huge quantity of unclaimed coal was lying inside a forest site at Nengkra Bolsalgre for a long time. Later, officials found 31,998 MT of coal.
Earlier, the NGT had asked the government about the movement of over 400 coal-laden trucks from Gasuapara border point in South Garo Hills to Bangladesh indicating the violation of the coal ban.
The East Garo Hills DC Swapnil Tembe had directed the Divisional Mining Officer, R Thabah, to visit the site and conduct a probe. Preliminary report indicated that the coal was extracted quite some time back and the owner of the consignment may have concealed it in the forest to avoid detection from the NGT teams.

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