Illegal mining on in M’laya, CM admits

Govt orders probe into Rymbai mine mishap

SHILLONG, Jan 23: Chief Minister Conrad Sangma today reluctantly admitted to illegal mining activities in the state even as he staunchly averred that there were stringent laws in place to prevent such illegalities.
“If anybody is conducting illegal mining, the government will take strict action against them,” the chief minister said while referring to the Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Act, 1957 which has a provision for imprisonment of upto 5 years for violators.
He, however, admitted that in spite of the laws, illegal coal mining and transportation was taking place.
Citing an example, the chief minister said, “We have Section 302 for murder but murders still take place.”
Reacting to the death of six labourers at a coal pit in Rymbai Elaka of East Jaintia Hills on Thursday, Sangma informed that the state government has lodged an FIR into the incident and inquiry is on to ascertain the cause behind the mishap.
Stating that he was yet to get the full report on the incident, the chief minister informed that 17 people have been picked up for interrogation while several others are absconding.
To a query on Cabinet Minister Kyrmen Shylla’s brother (Bison Shylla) being named in connection with illegal coal mining and transportation, the chief minister denied having any information on the same.
Bodies handed over to families
Meanwhile, the bodies of five of the six coal labourers, who died in Rymbai Elaka on Thursday, were handed over to their family members on Saturday after necessary formalities were conducted by the district police including post-mortem examinations at Khliehriat CHC.
The bodies were sent to their native villages in two vehicles arranged by the East Jaintia Hills district administration and the Police department.
A relative of one of the deceased informed that the district administration had to arrange two vehicles from Assam — a pick-up van and a truck — to carry the bodies since vehicle owners in the district were unwilling to ferry the bodies. “We are grateful to the SP who helped us with the vehicle and even provided money for food,” the relative said.
A police official said that the pick-up van charged Rs 10,000 to ferry a body to Katigorah near Kalain in Silchar district while the truck which ferried four other bodies to Karimganj district charged Rs 30,000 for the trip.

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