Portends of Shah’s visit
The discovery of six dead bodies in a coal mine is a portentous ‘ishara’, an ominous sign, which has vindicated the stand of the state’s Leader of Opposition and his party. Like the Ksan tragedy in 2018 that claimed 15 lives, the 6 dead men who can no longer tell tales, have left behind some more ‘ishare’about the continuity of illegal coal mining despite its ban. This Government is rightly called the ‘Meghalaya Dewïong Alliance’ as unconfirmed reports suggest that the coal mine where the six miners were found dead belongs to a relative of an incumbent cabinet minister.
Two years ago, while returning from a village in the Sohïong area–whose roads were and still are in a dilapidated condition–I witnessed a serpentine line of trucks whose registration plates were removed. The cargo spaces of the trucks were also covered with polythene sheets. It’s anybody’s guess what those trucks were carrying and how they could move around sans a number plate. Last month, I witnessed the same baffling scene in the Shallang area. What ‘ishara’ is the state police giving the public with such brazen acts of omission? What’s their ‘commission’ in it? Notwithstanding the delay, the incumbent CM has finally admitted that illegal mining is going on in the state. But it’s doubtful that any earnest action will be taken at all.
Coming to Amit Shah’s visit to the state on January 23 last, I don’t recall any past governments being cold shouldered and snubbed in such a brazen manner. The visits of Union Ministers or Prime Ministers in the past included innumerable meetings with ministers, opposition members, leaders of political parties, civil society members, etc. The Shah of the BJP doesn’t seem to be too concerned about the concerns of our political leaders and those of the pressure groups. It seems that the central government will act as per its discretion, just as it did in Kashmir, irrespective of “public” opinion. Shah’s actions could also be an ‘ishara’ that he knows too well about the antics of our state government–the dearth of new policies, the scam in the district councils, illegal mining and transportation of coal, delay in auctioning of extracted coal; maybe there are more illegalities which the Shah has been told about. After all, intelligence agencies are at his beck and call. Whatever it may be, Shah is a Modi loyalist, and one of Modi’s maxims is ‘Na khaunga, na khane doonga’ (neither will I indulge in corruption, nor allow anyone else to indulge in it). The Shah of the BJP has indeed left an ‘ishara’ open to innumerable interpretations.
Banshan F. Lyngdoh
Incinerator in Marten Mawlai
Recently one of the NGOs visited the Marten Garbage Dumping Ground and in an interview with the Media it was reported that human bio-medical waste collected from the Hospitals and Health Care Clinics are burnt by the driver of the vehicle in the open space of Marten which is highly toxic and infectious. In the year 2005-06, the Shillong Municipal Board had installed an Incinerator (800º Celsius & above) under the HUDCO Project for incinerating all medical waste of hospitals and health care centres of Shillong by collecting human bio-medical waste in a well-designed Special Van with necessary protection equipments.
As the then CEO, SMB along with the Health Wing of the Board, care has been taken to see that solid and liquid items contaminated with blood and other waste containing infectious items including discarded pharmaceuticals like used syringes, gloves, masks, medical tubes, etc. kept in special designed container properly protected are incinerated at Marten, Mawlai. It is learnt that the installed Incinerator is at present out of order and the medical waste is disposed of openly and manually. The pollutants released into the air and the ash residue generated is highly toxic especially to the habitations in the vicinity.
For environment care, it is suggested to revive the Incinerator in the well-designed building in Marten by installing new incinerators operation at 850º – 1100º Celsius which provides complete destruction of hazardous waste. The new product deals with bio-hazard emergencies and is designed to cope with most kinds of medical wastes. Special Purpose Vehicles for collecting human bio-medical waste may be increased in numbers and such arrangements of keeping Incinerators away from the habitations may be arranged in all districts and Sub-Divisional Headquarters of the State. Technical advice of experts of the Health Department, Urban Affairs, Municipality Boards and Union Health Ministry may be obtained in the interest of the people of the State.
Another tragedy, belated admission
How many more deaths inside the dark, hellish coal mines do we need before the Government takes action? Of all the governments in the past, this one will stand out as a government owned and controlled by the influential politicians in the government who are also coal mine owners and exporters. The recent tragedy we hear of, but are yet to be told by the Government, belongs to the brother of a cabinet minister. The Supreme Court order of 2019 is being openly violated. At the time Chief Minister Conrad Sangma had boasted that his Government had got the NGT ban lifted and that the Court had recognised tribal rights over land. Fine. But what about the conditions laid down by the Supreme Court? Why was the CM silent on those conditions? This silence is because the coal mine owners don’t want to abide by the SC directives. What is that if not contempt of the SC ruling?