Governance is serious business

The statement made by Deputy Chief Minister, Prestone Tynsong that those having a problem with illegal coal mining should either go to the National Green Tribunal (NGT) or the Supreme Court smacks of arrogance borne out of the knowledge that the MDA Government is invincible. That Tynsong should respond to the UDP, a coalition partner in the present dispensation with such nonchalance shows that he has scant respect for the chief alliance partner. The prime responsibility of any government is to govern which means that the rule of law should prevail. Since the MDA Government took over the reins of governance in 2018 there have been several mining accidents where dozens of miners were killed. The NGT had banned coal mining since April 2014. But there is no oversight body to check illegal coal mining. It carried on unabated and transportation was facilitated by the arms of the state. Anyone who dared to blow the whistle on this illegality faced physical attacks. If people in the Government are themselves involved in perpetuating criminal activities, then who is going to check crime? No wonder the Police Department is now at its nadir as far as crime prevention and arrest of criminals is concerned.
Of course, Tynsong’s riposte is acerbic considering the Home Department is held by none other than a UDP, MLA and the same party is demanding stringent investigation into illegal coal mining and transportation. Coal mining is a touchy subject as the powerful ministers of the MDA Government belonging to the National Peoples’ Party (NPP) are themselves in the coal business which in turn funds the NPP and the elections. To disturb this delicate balance would go against the interests of the ruling party and Government. It’s a catch-22 situation. The NPP is fighting elections in Manipur this year. Next year Meghalaya and Nagaland are poll-bound. In Meghalaya the NPP will be facing anti-incumbency. This means spending more money to convince voters to elect its candidates. Without coal and coke money, there is little or no income from other sources. And the fact is that without money winning elections is well nigh impossible. Hence coal mining will have to carry on via subversive means.
It is not just the UDP that is concerned with illegal coal mining. The All India Trinamool Congress (AITC) MLAs led by former Chief Minister, Dr Mukul Sangma had visited the coal mining areas recently and found freshly dug coal as certified by geologists. Tynsong is therefore defending the indefensible and virtually admitting that his Government cannot stop rat hole coal mining – which is the most profitable business and requires the least investment. Tynsong is actually telling the UDP, “Go deal with it!”

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