Meghalaya Northeast

Meghalaya High Court takes tough stand on illegal coal

The High Court of Meghalaya has directed the State government to ensure “not an ounce of illegally-mined coal” is allowed to be transported in trucks or other vehicles.

The court told Meghalaya’s Chief Secretary and Director-General of Police that they would be accountable if any form of illegally-mined coal is discovered being transported in the State.

The full bench of Chief Justice Sanjib Banerjee, Justice W. Diengdoh, and Justice H.S. Thangkhiew also directed the two officials and all other police personnel to ensure strict compliance to the order without “bowing to any political interference”.

The court observed that a policy was notified by the State on March 5, 2021, for the mining of coal and several applications were received but no licence has been issued for any mining so far.

“Yet, rampant illegal mining of coal continues despite orders of this court dating back, probably, to March of this year. The NGT (National Green Tribunal) and the Supreme Court orders have been in place from 2016 or earlier,” the court’s order read.

The NGT had banned rat-hole coal mining in Meghalaya in April 2014.

“Apart from the dangerous form of rat-hole mining that is undertaken, particularly in the eastern part of the state, there are murmurs that illegally-mined coal is smuggled out of the state and is returned for apparent export to a neighbouring country on the basis of fabricated documents to suggest that the coal originated in some other State,” it said.

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