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SHILLONG: Central government’s controversial notification on environment seems to have provided a perfect cannon fodder to the opposition Congress for needling the NPP-led government which is a partner of BJP-led NDA government.
After some NGOs recently flagged the issues related to sensitive land rights of tribals, Congress has picked up the thread.
The party spokesperson, HM Shangpliang on Tuesday asked the state government to move the Ministry of Forest and Environment for exempting the Sixth Schedule areas of the state from the purview of the Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) Notification.
The MLA addressed a letter to the state Forest Minister, Lahkmen Rymbui prodding him to protect the rights of the local tribals which may be become compromised if the draft notification now under circulation becomes a law.
It may be mentioned that the EIA notification is an all-pervasive regulation through which the impacts of land-use change, water extraction, tree felling, pollution, waste and effluents management for industrial and infrastructure projects are sought to be studied and used in developmental decision making. The apprehension is that the powers of the Central government will be too sweeping transgressing on the tribal rights enshrined in the constitution.In addition, Congress is pressing the government to declare the mining being done by the local tribals as extraction of minor mineral, besides declaring it as non-mining activity. “As far as royalty of the minor mineral is concerned, the same may be charged as per the MMCR, 2016. If the minor mineral is going to an industry, other than a lime kiln, the then the royalty as per major mineral may be charged,” Shangpliang said.
Earlier, the Meghalaya Legislative Assembly Committee on Environment had expressed that minor minerals of the state should be given considerate views in the draft Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) Notification, 2020 since majority of the rural people in the state are dependent on sand mining and extraction of other minerals.
The committee had also expressed its displeasure that the public consultation period in the draft has been reduced to 20 days from 45 days and even certain projects need not be consulted with public.
The MDA government, which will have to submit its views to the centre within the next few days, is unlikely to hold drastically different views even though it is in league with BJP-led NDA.