Graft charges lingering on
While the State BJP is focussed on the corruption that has eaten into the vitals of the Garo Hills and Jaintia Hills District Councils, and have been pursuing the matter doggedly for several months now, the Congress on the other hand has been focussing on the illegal mining and transportation of coal. Leader of the Opposition, Mukul Sangma has written to the Chief Secretary who is also the Chief Vigilance Officer on the modus operandi and the false reports on the quantum of coal at the depot and the actual amount that’s being transported illegally on a daily basis with the state machinery aiding and abetting the process. The sport verification by the Congress leader who was accompanied by no less than the Deputy Commissioner and the District Mining Officer of West Jaintia Hills district in October last year detected irregularities which were in contravention of the MMDR Act 1957 which lays down the manner in which coal is to be mined and transported and the revenue that should accrue to the state. The amended Act also lays down clear guidelines for mining which includes reclamation and regeneration plans for all abandoned mines – an activity that has not as yet been set in motion in all the mining areas. Large tracts of abandoned mines are left to the elements leading to flooding of nearby operative mines during the monsoons and loss of human lives.
The Congress leader also mentioned the stiff regulations laid down by the National Green Tribunal(NGT) since 2014 when it banned coal mining after the series of coal mining tragedies in Garo Hills. The NGT had stipulated that a Mining and Minerals Act should be in place before the State is allowed to restart coal mining. That Act is yet to see the light of day but mining is going on in full swing in all the mining districts of the state. This calls into question the role of the law enforcement agencies. The entire stretch of the bypass from Thadlaskein on to East Jaintia Hills has a long line of coal trucks and policemen are seen all along the stretch. At one time the coal trucks were at least covered with tarpaulin. Now they no longer feel the need for that. The Police, Transport Department and the Directorate of Mineral Resources have obviously been given orders to allow the free movement of coal trucks and not to keep a check on them. In short the system itself is colluding in this entire illegality. Ironically while the NGT itself was very active during the time of Justice Kataki who has since stepped down, now the Tribunal seems to have taken a lenient view of this matter.
Which way is Meghalaya headed and how long will this venality continue?