1,548 cases logged since 2014


SHILLONG, June 10: More than 1,500 cases of illegal transportation of coal have been registered in Meghalaya since April 2014 when the National Green Tribunal (NGT) had imposed a ban on rat-hole mining.
The ruling and opposition parties or coalitions have invariably blamed each other for the illegal mining and transportation of coal in the state. The May 30 coal mine mishap in the East Jaintia Hills district has once again sparked a debate on the issue and the inability of the government to stop the illegal activities.
The hopes of rescuing the six miners trapped in the mine at Krem Ule are evaporating by the day.
A senior government official told The Shillong Times that 1,548 cases of illegal transportation have been registered in the state from 2014 to March 2021.
During the same period, 144 cases of illegal coal mining were registered.
The official also said 250 cases were registered under MMDR Act of 1957 from March 2019 to March 2021, and 185 trucks were seized and 85 people arrested in this connection from October 2020 to March 2021.
He said the government had issued strict directions to the deputy commissioners and the superintendents of police to curb illegal mining and transportation of coal.
“Raids and surprise checking in coal mines are being done by the district task force headed by an executive magistrate. The police conduct regular patrolling on highways and roads to detect trucks carrying coal illegally,” the official said.
High-security transport challan with QR code, hologram and fugitive ink have also been introduced to prevent misuse.
Demand for independent probe
The MDA coalition partners and several NGOs have asked the state government to resolve the issue once and for all while Congress has insisted on an independent inquiry.  Chief Minister Conrad K. Sangma had said a few days ago that the government would examine the demand for an independent probe.
At least 20 people have lost their lives working illegally in the coal mines of East Jaintia Hills districts in the last three years.
The biggest tragedy was on December 13, 2018, when 15 miners died in a submerged mine at Ksan. In January this year, an accident in a coal mine near Rymbai area killed six miners.

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