Govt not inactive on illegal coal trade, over 2,000 cases filed: CM

SHILLONG, March 21: Chief Minister Conrad K Sangma on Tuesday dismissed allegations that the state government had done nothing to prevent illegal mining and transportation of coal. He said his government is not sitting idle on the issue and mentioned that over 2,000 cases have been registered and the police have been asked to maintain proper vigil.
“Altogether 1,701 cases have been registered against illegal transportation and close to 203 cases against illegal mining,” Sangma told the House during the discussion on the Governor’s address.
“It’s not that things are not happening. The police are doing their job. We must also realize that there are efforts going on. There is already a system where Government of India, Supreme Court and Coal India Limited prescribed certain ways of auctioning and transportation of coal to the tune of 32 lakh tonnes. Auctioning has taken place and will continue to take place,” the CM said.
“Every single truck plying is not an illegal truck,” he said adding, a lot of trucks move with proper documents transporting the auctioned coal.
Sangma informed the members that 726 drug and narcotic peddling-related cases were registered and 1,330 people arrested.
He said the Home Department is working hard to prevent drug trafficking, adding once the Narcotic Drugs and Psychotropic Substances Act is put in place, it will help book drug peddlers under stringent laws.
He said discussions are on with NGOs running rehabilitation centres on how the government can work with them and give them necessary support and infrastructure so that they can run the centres in a better manner. He said there is a strong opinion to involve the civil society, especially church and NGOs working for long time in this field.
Earlier, Congress MLA Celestine Lyngdoh sarcastically applauded the police for handling well the petty cases of drug peddling.
“Our police have been efficient in detecting small quantities of drugs. I don’t understand why they fail to detect a 16 or 14-wheeler truck with 30 tonnes of coal travelling through our highways in broad daylight,” Lyngdoh said moving an amendment motion to the Governor’s address.
Asking if the police have chosen to be selective, he said, “If the police are efficient in every area, why such big trucks cannot be detected.”
He said the absence of the state mining policy caused huge losses to the state exchequer. He said he is not against the coal merchants but rather will salute them for providing employment to people in the rural areas by managing to continue with coal mining activities even after the ban by the National Green Tribunal (NGT).
“Can we carry this activity of illegal mining of coal at the cost of the state exchequer? Can we allow a group of people to do illegal business at the cost of the state exchequer? These are pertinent questions which this House would have to answer,” Lyngdoh said.
He said a national highway passes through his constituency and it will be difficult for him and his people to believe that there is no transportation of coal. “The question is how many of the hundreds of trucks that ply through the highway are illegal,” the Umsning MLA said.
He said he believes the state government will be able to come up with scientific mining and expedite the process of bringing a mining policy that is in sync with the NGT requirement.

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