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MDA govt’s move on coal mining misleading: KHNAM

“Only NGT or Supreme Court has the authority to lift ban”



GUWAHATI: The Khun Hynniewtrep National Awakening Movement has expressed reservations over the Conrad Sangma-led MDA government’s move to persuade the Centre to lift the ban on coal mining, terming it an attempt to “misguide” the people of the state.

“I don’t know whether the Centre has the power or authority to lift the ban on coal mining as it was imposed by the National Green Tribunal (a quasi judicial body). Lifting the ban is a subject of the NGT and Supreme Court,” KHNAM vice president, Thomas Passah told The Shillong Times on Monday.

The NGT had banned rat-hole coal mining in the state in 2014 following petitions on rampant violation of environment norms and disregard for safety measures by miners. However, it had asked the state to come up with a proposal for safe mining with special focus on environment.

“The ban can only be lifted by the NGT if the state government assures through an affidavit there will be no environmental pollution and that there will be no casualties while undertaking rat hole mining,” Passah said.

“So I don’t know, may be with latest technology there is a way out, but how can the government be certain that there will be no pollution or deaths. So it is evident that the MDA government’s initiative is nothing but an attempt to misguide the people of the state, like it has from time to time,” he said.

Chief minister Conrad Sangma had met Union coal minister Piyush Goyal in New Delhi on Sunday to find a way to end the coal mining impasse in the state with a thrust on environmental issues. The NGT ban was discussed at length.

Sangma laid emphasis on maintaining a balance between environment and economic activities related to mining. The Union minister assured to look into the suggestions of the state government.

“The BJP-led government had prior to the Meghalaya Assembly elections said it would try to lift the coal mining ban within six to eight months of having a stake in power in the state, which again questions the seriousness of the Centre’s statement as the powers to lift the ban lie with the NGT,” he said.

Work permits

KHNAM also condemned the proposal of the state government to issue work permits to Bangladeshi nationals.

“The Northeast as a whole has been suffering from illegal influx post 1971. Although the chief minister has said it was just a mere discussion with the Centre, he cannot make afford to make such statements that may hurt local sentiments,” Passah said.

Asked whether the chief minister’s reasoning of economic development vis a vis work permits holds good, he said, “It does not hold good anywhere. As it is there is a presence of a substantial number of Bangladeshis in the region. Work permits to Bangladeshis will only authenticate their presence, which we will never support”.

On the Opposition Congress’ protest against the chief minister’s work permit proposal, he said, “We are not convinced on the Congress’ intentions either as they are only trying to shake up the MDA government and gain political points. But parties need to be concerned and go beyond politics to resolve the issue.”

The KHNAM vice president further said that the inner line permit (ILP) was the only way that influx could be curbed. “The parties should be serious on ILP and the same has to be implemented as it was the only way illegal entry of foreigners can be stopped,” he said.


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