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Will curb illegal coal mining in state, govt assures HC

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SHILLONG, May 7: The state government has told the High Court of Meghalaya it will ensure that illegal coal mining in the state is curbed in keeping with the 22nd interim report of Justice (retired) BP Katakey.
The state is yet to receive the interim report.
When the matter was taken up for hearing, the Advocate General produced the status report dated April 30, drawing the attention of the court to the various steps taken to curb illegal mines. It was also said that actions will have to be initiated in South Garo Hills and West Khasi Hills under Section 21 of the Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Act, 1957.
In the case of South West Garo Hills, the total re-inventoried coal was 2,89,662.454 MT, out of which only 5,267.77 MT is lying outside the designated coal depots. No one has come forward to claim and steps have been taken to seize the coal for disposal under Section 21 of the Act, the court was told.
Similarly, the government will take over 1,34,608.662 MT of coal remaining to be transported in East Jaintia Hills.
The Advocate General said 70,317.66 MT of coal is left to be transported.
He submitted that the Single Member Committee asked the state government to comply with its directives within 15 days, adding that the government acted based on Justice Katakey’s 21st interim report on the seizure of illegal coal in the district.
It was also submitted that a meeting was convened by the Secretary, Mining and Geology Department to finalise the selection of auditors for the Meghalaya Environment Protection and Restoration Fund and that the proposal has been forwarded to the Oversight Committee for approval in its next sitting.
He further submitted that in the case of ferroalloy plants, show-cause notices have been issued to seven units and the decision will be taken within a month based on the replies.
He also submitted that environmental clearance from the authority concerned is yet to be accorded despite the mining leases approved by the Centre and the mining plant by the Ministry of Coal.
The State Expert Appraisal Committee is presently scrutinizing each project proposal and the process will take two to three months for finalisation.
He also submitted that a drone survey and videography as specified by the court has been strictly adhered to and the observation made by the high court on March 14 has been forwarded to the Oversight Committee.
The Advocate General pointed to an alleged mishap in which three miners died and 12 others were injured in Muriap village. The National Green Tribunal in New Delhi took up a suo-motu case in OA No.479 of 2024.
According to him, the Single Member Committee’s recommendations and the orders passed by the high court have strictly been complied with.
He also submitted that the state will curb illegal coal mining based on the 22nd interim report it is yet to receive. This report was submitted to the court on April 29.

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