The Meghalaya High Court today directed for preparation of a blueprint to maintain the condition of roads in the State besides “stricter set of norms” both for checking and control to stop the plundering of the bountiful natural resources available in the State.
The court also asked the State Transport Secretary to personally look into the matter and devise a scheme to deal with the menace. It also directed the Transport Secretary to seek the assistance of the Indian Institute of Management, Shillong to prepare a blueprint in this regard.
The division bench of the High Court was hearing the PIL filed by Tennydard M. Marak regarding overloading by trucks carrying coal and other goods.
“Across the State illegal coal mining continues unabated despite the State’s assurance to adhere to subsisting court and tribunal orders and representations to the contrary. Orders of the court disbelieving the State on the basis of material available have cut no ice with the State. Even previous orders indicating that the State appears to be complicit in the illegal mining industries have been quietly digested. Indeed, even if local inhabitants are driven to illegal mining, for want of any other source of livelihood, if the illegal transportation thereof across the State were to be arrested, there would be no demand and, consequently, the illegal mining would come down or stop altogether,’ the High Court said.
“Similarly, there is wanton limestone quarrying, more often than not with the State looking the other way. Recent orders of this court have referred to a mischievous tweak in the rules that allowed incidental mining to be carried out; and, in the name of ‘incidental’ mining, thousands of tonnes of mineral have been disposed of without any licence being obtained or any norms being adhered to. In addition, there are boulders which are transported out of the State and riverbed mining for sand. No doubt, local satraps with political connections control such businesses and it suits the State government to not take any measures in such regard,” it added.
Stating that it is a sorry state of affairs that the executive which is tasked with the duty of protecting and preserving the assets of the State “is complicit in the wanton plundering”, the High Court said that several of the roads, including some of the key roads or bypasses that lead to the southern North-East states, are in a pitiable state.
“Orders have been passed last week pertaining to the Jowai bypass on the highway that passes through the State through Khliehriat towards Silchar. The extent of the damage is primarily due to overloading of vehicles that the State seems to do little about,” the High Court said.
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