At least five ministers belonging to different parties in the MDA government have urged Chief Minister Conrad Sangma to end illegal mining and transportation of coal in the State once and for all.
According to sources, the five ministers have complained to Sangma about the illegal transportation of coal that resumed a few days ago.
Following complaints from various quarters, the ministers alleged that challans were issued to six-tyre trucks to transport illegal coal.
According to sources, each of these trucks can ferry 12 metric tons of coal, but on the roads, trucks with 12 and 14 tyres were ferrying coal illegally beyond 12 metric tons.
“The ministers while raising the issue before the chief minister, sought his intervention to immediately put a stop to such illegal activities that have looted the revenue of the State,” sources said.
It may be mentioned that the NGT constituted committee had in March this year approved auctioning of two lakh metric ton (MT) of coal out of 32 lakhs MT that has already been extracted and assessed in the State.
The coal includes 75,000 MT in East Jaiñtia Hills, 50,000 MT in South Khasi Hills, 50,000 MT in South Garo Hills and 25,000 MT in South West Garo Hills.
It was estimated that the State can generate revenue of Rs 20 crore from the two lakh metric tons of coal approved for auctioning. Approximately, revenue of Rs 500 crore would be generated from the transportation of 32 lakhs metric tons of extracted coal.
However last week, the chief minister had informed that the delay to start the e-auctioning of two lakh metric tons of coal was due to the fact that the NGT wanted the State government to transport the coal from the quarry to the depot.
The NGT has rejected the proposal by the government that coal miners themselves can bring the extracted coal from the mines to the depot.
The chief minister had informed that a tender was called in order to get transporters to transport the coal from the mines to the depot, but there was no response.
“As there was no response, we had to go to the district level. After, the deputy commissioners called the tendering process locally, then we got the response in two of the districts. Because of that, there was a slight delay in the e-auctioning but I am hopeful that things will move now in a faster pace,” the chief minister said.
It may be recalled that in February this year, some of the ministers in the MDA government had also raised this same issue before the chief minister, and at that time they alleged that the home department and transport department have failed to act and stop the illegal transportation of coal.
Later, reshuffling of portfolios took place within the MDA government, where the home (police) portfolio was taken away from power minister, James K. Sangma and allotted to education minister, Lahkmen Rymbui.
However, the transport department remains with Sniawbhalang Dhar.