Illegal coal mining and transportation has once again resurfaced with reports coming in that these activities are being carried out in the remote areas in the State with authorities failing to put a check.
Sources told Highland Post that trucks loaded with fresh coal have started from Shangpung in West Jaiñtia Hills and are stocked at Khliehrangnah. A video of trucks laden with coal making a beeline at Bamkamar area under Nartiang was also shot and the source said these would ply at night through a road to Mawlasnai in Ri Bhoi unchecked.
It may be recalled that a resident from East Garo Hills had lodged a formal complaint to the then State Chief Secretary regarding illegal stock of coal at Khliehrangnah area in October, 2020 while former CM, Mukul Sangma too had visited the area and alleged illegal coal-related activities being carried out.
Similarly, photographs of coal being mined illegally in the Nonghyllam area under South West Khasi Hills district have surfaced. Sources said that with the onset of winter, illegal coal mining is being carried out with impunity by those “blessed from above” (or the coal barons known as the high levels in the Jaiñtia Hills).
Meanwhile, the Meghalaya High Court has asked the district collectors to take action against anybody found involved in illegal mining of coal in the state.
The order was passed by the division bench comprising Chief Justice Sanjib Banerjee and judge W Diengdoh yesterday. The direction was after the Amicus Curiae informed that there is rampant illegal mining all over the state but little action had been taken by the state.
The bench was also of the view that there has to be a political will to curb and altogether stop illegal mining.
“In this cash-strapped state, mining licenses may be a source of revenue and the state should file a report through the Chief Secretary as to the measures which have been adopted to stop illegal mining,” the order said.
The bench also directed all district collectors to verify persons undertaking mining activities in the districts and the adherence to the conditions of the licenses, if any, which may be granted.
“The slightest suspicion that any person is functioning without a license or in excess of the areas or conditions specified in the license should prompt the District Collector to take immediate appropriate steps, including initiating criminal action against the persons concerned,” the order said.
The bench wanted the chief secretary to monitor the entire matter and submit a report indicating the action taken on the matter.
“It will be open to the Chief Secretary to obtain any information of illegal mining activities from learned Amicus appointed in this matter since he has undertaken some visits to locations where it is perceived that illegal mining activities are conducted,” the order said.
The matter will be heard on February 15 next.