SHILLONG, Jan 17: Former chief minister and All India Trinamool Congress (AITC) leader Mukul M. Sangma has demanded a court-monitored investigation into the alleged rampant illegal coal mining and transportation in Meghalaya.
On Monday, Sangma visited the coal belt of South Garo Hills (SGH) following inputs from various local residents and his party MDCs on illegal mining and transportation of the mineral taking place at a wanton level.
Many people had complained that the district and state-level authorities have been turning a blind eye to registered FIRs and tip-offs on illegal activities in the East, North and South Garo Hills districts.
Sangma first visited some coal-filled depots in Era Aning near Jadi in SGH along with the MDCs, local petitioners and others seeking to verify the complaints.
Initially reluctant to make any comments, a geologist from the Mining and Geology department admitted that the coal was indeed recently mined. Samples of the coals were later handed over to Sangma, who said these would be tested and matched with the samples from Gasuapara and Assam to check if the coal indeed was the same.
“For the last two years, I have been asking the government to take cognisance of this. Section 21 of the MMDR Act and sub-section 1 is a cognisable offence and no one has to tell you to act on it. An inquiry by an SIT monitored by the judiciary is what is needed,” he said.
“How will the money reach the state when it is going into someone’s pocket? You are destroying the state. Only if legal mining takes place will the state receive revenue,” Sangma said.
The AITC leader was taken aback when he found very little coal and only a few trucks during his visit although hundreds of trucks ply on a daily basis there.
“I had informed the chief secretary two days ago about my intention to visit the area. It was impromptu. This visit is based on the various complaints that were received by me and copied to the CM and the chief secretary. Where is the action on these complaints?” he asked.
“Where is the illegally mined coal going? It goes either to other parts of our country. We will know if the coal dumped at Gasuapara is the same as that from here or is coming from Assam,” he said.
Sangma accused the MDA government in the state of reluctance to act on complaints against illegal mining.
“From what has been happening for the past two years, we all have reasons to believe that the state government is in no mood to stop this illegal activity. An attempt to seek the intervention of the judiciary is required and that is precisely what we will be doing,” he added.
Earlier, the MDCs of AITC had visited the Dainadubi checkpoint where they found anomalies in the issuing of challans for the coal being transported.
“We found out that the illegal coal transport at Dainadubi is being facilitated by the state government in conjunction with the district authorities,” MDC Rinaldo K Sangma said.