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Centre sings NGT tune, justifies ban

Environmental commitment to get precedence: Union Minister Tomar

SHILLONG: Justifying the NGT ban on coal mining in the State, Union Minister of Steel and Mines Narendra Singh Tomar has said environmental commitment must take precedence over all other concerns and urged the Meghalaya Government to regulate mining of minerals.
“We cannot deny the fact that the current situation (ban on coal mining) is the result of negligence on the part of the stakeholders and Government has to take steps to protect the environment,” Tomar said while talking to newsmen during his day-long visit to the State on Wednesday.
He said that the Centre was aware about the effect of the ban on coal mining in Meghalaya.
“The ruling of the Tribunal has to be accepted as the degradation of the environment is an area of concern and protection of environment is a priority of the Government,” Union Minister said.
Tomar, however, suggested the State Government to place its grievances before the Centre.
He said, “The stakeholders should express their own views, and if needed, the Central government will also put forth its views.”
According to the Minister, the Centre is seized of the matter and will give a patient hearing to all stakeholders whose economic activities have been affected.
The minister, however, emphasised that environmental commitment would take precedence over all other concerns.
The Union Minister said the Centre will ensure that GSI will pay full attention to mineral exploration in the State and added that the State Government will monitor these activities.
“We would like to see that State government is able to derive the maximum benefit out of minerals and use it for the welfare of the poor,” he said.
Stating that Prime Minister Narendra Modi is committed to bring the northeastern region at par with the rest of the country in all realms of development,  the Union Minister said the Central government and the State government will work together to bring about progress and prosperity in the State through interventions in areas such as mineral exploration.
Earlier during the meeting, Tomar gave details of the MMDR Act 2015 and explained how it will usher in greater transparency and better ease of doing business, besides providing a mechanism in the form of District Mineral Foundation (DMF), for provision of funds for development of areas affected by mining, official sources said.
He also informed about setting up of National Mineral Exploration Trust (NMET) for giving due emphasis to exploration, they said.

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