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NGT ban impact: Economy down, crime graph up

SHILLONG: The ban on rat hole mining in Meghalaya imposed by the National Green Tribunal on April 17 this year has had varied ramifications in the State.

While the ban has proved to be a blessing in disguise as far as the protection of the environment is concerned for which it was primarily meant, it has also brought its share of miseries including a slump in generation of revenue for the State as well as rise in instances of crimes in the coal belt areas.

The NGT ban has also resulted in closure of several private-run schools and even some churches in Jaintia Hills.

Agitations against the NGT ban claimed two lives in Mookhep in Jaintia Hills when security personnel fired at an agitated crowd on September 24.

Chief Minister Mukul Sangma had reiterated on a number of occasions that the State Government will urge the Centre to invoke Paragraph 12 (A) (b) of the Sixth Schedule through a Presidential notification so that Central laws in the State relating to mining are repealed.

“Central laws are in conflict with our customary rights, but there is a way out provided Paragraph 12 (A) (b) of the Sixth Schedule is invoked,” he had stated.

According to the Chief Minister, the past governments had never taken recourse to the particular Para of the Sixth Schedule of the Indian Constitution. “Now is the time when we will take recourse to the particular Para,” he added.

In the wake of the poor fiscal health of the State arising out of the NGT ban on coal mining since April 17, the State government was forced to announce a 25 per cent budget cut for all the departments.

The ban on coal mining in Meghalaya has also affected the revenue collection of the Excise department.

Indicating this, Excise Minister Zenith Sangma had said that the department in 2013 had generated revenue of Rs.155 crore but in 2014 the collection has gone down drastically.

The Chief Minister had also stated that sale of liquor has gone down in the State as an offshoot of the NGT ban on coal mining.

Meanwhile, a major paper mill in the Northeast, which depends on coal from Meghalaya for producing paper, is facing the threat of closure following the NGT ban on mining and transportation of coal. Cachar Paper Mill, a unit of Hindustan Paper Corporation Ltd, a Government of India enterprise located in Barak Valley of Assam, has written to the Chief Minister Mukul Sangma for restoration of coal supply for the survival of the paper mill. Moreover, Railways Minister Sadananda Gowda had said that Railways will lose nearly Rs 50 crore of revenue annually due to the NGT ban on coal mining in Meghalaya.

Though the NGT had allowed transportation of extracted and assessed coal in three installments, a stalemate is on as far as weighbridges are concerned.

There were a large number of reports of illegal mining and export of coal despite the NGT ban. Police arrested many truck drivers and seized hundreds of trucks from across the State for violating the ban.

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