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Ministry exempts state from mining acts for coal, lignite

SHILLONG: The Ministry of Coal has finally agreed to exempt Meghalaya from the central mining acts in regard to coal and lignite.
In an affidavit submitted in the Supreme Court, the Centre informed that the ministry has given its consent in making the Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Act, 1957, and the Coal Mines Nationalisation Act, 1973, non-applicable in Meghalaya.
It further informed that exemption of these central acts will be for coal and lignite. “With respect to exemption of the acts for minerals other than coal and lignite the matter will have to be discussed with the Home Ministry,” it said.
In a statement issued on Sunday, Lber Laloo, who had been fighting a case in the apex court since 2015 for the exemption and resumption of coal mining, said “finally the effort has started to bear fruit” and that the ministry’s consent “comes as a biggest relief to the people of the state and biggest achievement in the case too”.
The exemption will allow local tribal people to be the owner of the mineral (coal and lignite) reserves in their land, “a right which is unlike in the other parts of the country where minerals belong to the state”, the statement read.
“This condition will not be disturbed or changed anymore in Meghalaya. Regulation and framing of conditions and rules for scientific and modern ways of mining, framing of policy, issuing of mining licence and permission etc will now vest with the state government alone,” it added.
Laloo said though the decision to exempt Meghalaya from the acts was taken in 2015, it was never brought to the notice of the Supreme Court or the National Green Tribunal.
“It was only after several aggressive arguments for lifting the ban on coal mining and exempting of the State of Meghalaya from the said two acts by the counsel of Lber Laloo that the Union of India has finally produced the same to inform the Supreme Court about its decision on exemption of centrals acts,” the statement said, adding that a copy of the ministry’s letter has been sent to the state government.
The case that is pending before the apex court against the ban on coal mining in the state will be heard on Tuesday.

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