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No progress in restoring env hit by coal mining: Panel

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By Our Reporter

SHILLONG, May 11: In its 22nd interim report, the Justice (retd) BP Katakey-headed single-member committee said no progress seemed to have been made in taking steps for the restoration of environment damaged by coal mining activities other than the sanction of a few projects out of the Meghalaya Environment Protection and Restoration Fund (MEPRF).
Citing the availability of about Rs 400 crore in MEPRF and another over Rs 100 crore with the Central Pollution Control Board, the Committee said necessary steps need to be taken by the departments concerned urgently for the environmental restoration.
It said the people of the mining areas are still suffering as a result of continued acid mine drainage from the mine pits which have not been closed yet.
On the status of audit of source of coal used in the coke oven plants, ferro alloy plants and captive power plants of cement factories, the Committee said the process of audit of the source of coal in captive power plants is underway and expected to be completed within three weeks from now, as informed by the Audit Committee constituted for the purpose.  Meanwhile, two representations, filed by M/S Abhi Coke Pvt Ltd and M/S Jaintia Coke Pvt Ltd relating to the audit of source of coal used by those coke oven plants, have been considered by the Audit Committee.
Following such reconsideration, the Audit Committee has apprised the single-member committee that while Abhi Coke Pvt. Ltd is found to be liable for payment of Rs 1,02,36,107, the Jaintia Coke Pvt. Ltd is found to be liable for payment of Rs 1,21,96,275 towards royalty and cess for the unaccounted coal used in those plants.
The single-member panel was told the demand notices for the said amounts would be issued to those coke oven plants within a day or two.
The interim report said the transportation of re-assessed/re-verified inventoried coal to the designated depots has not been completed yet, as the drone survey to find out the availability of any further mined coal in the districts concerned is yet to commence.
The panel recommended the conduct of the drone survey immediately after the completion of the transportation of re-assessed/re-verified inventoried coal to the Coal India Limited-designated depots.
This is to find out the availability of further coal illegally mined after the imposition of the ban by the National Green Tribunal and for taking required steps including seizure of such coal under the provisions of the Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Act, 1957.

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