TURA | Jan 14:
Concerned over reports of recurring illegal transportation of coal in Meghalaya, an activist, Kingstone Bolwary on Tuesday filed a complaint with the NGT panel in the state over the allegations. In his complaint, Bolwari stated that illegal mining as well as transport is taking place.
He referred to the upholding of the ban on rat hole mining in the state by the Supreme Court through its judgment on Jul 3, 2019.
“Despite the order, the there are thousands of commercial trucks carrying coal on a daily basis when the order states that no extracted coal should be moved without the payment of royalty and without valid challans,” stated Bolwari in his complaint to the NGT.
The activist further added that this movement of trucks was being carried out right under the nose of the government.
“Government authorities are aware of the illegal transportation taking place without valid documents. They are aware that this will hurt the revenue of the state through the loss of taxes and royalty. Despite being fully aware of what is happening the entire government machinery (commissioner of transport, home department, mining and geology, DCs and SPs of various district), are neglecting to check this illegality,” he added.
The activist added that the neglect by the authorities has further emboldened the defaulters.
“Despite knowing everything they have remained quiet. It is therefore urged upon the committee to conduct a fresh inquiry into the matter and stop the movement of illegal coal,” added the complainant.
Bolwari raised the matter of coal being transported through many routes from Shallang including the roads through Athiabari – Aradonga, Langpi – Monan Haldipara. Both these routes are being used to transport the coal unto Boko in Assam, from where it is sent elsewhere.
He further stated that despite a Court order allowing for the transport of only 9 MT of coal per truck, almost all trucks were violating the norms while transporting coal.
“The government authorities encourage this violation and have been defying the order of the SC and a spot verification by the NGT committee and accordingly stop all illegalities while also drawing contempt proceedings,” said the activist.
Govt welcomes CBI prove into alleged illegal transportation of coal
Meanwhile, the Meghalaya Deputy Chief Minister Prestone Tynsong on Tuesday said that the State Government welcomes the CBI probe into the alleged rampant illegal transportation of coal, boulders and beetle nuts.
“We are happy with the CBI inquiry instituted by the Meghalaya Lokayukta to probe into the alleged illegal transportation of coal. The media time and again has been reporting about this issue. The CBI probe will clear the doubts if illegal transportation of coal is really taking place. It is good that people will not know the truth,” Meghalaya Deputy Chief Minister told reporters here today.
It may be mentioned that in view of the petition by the by a border resident Abhijeet Basumatary, the Lokayukta has demanded action against the Special Assistant to Home Minister, James Sangma, Secretary mining and geology department, SP and DC of East Jaintia Hills beside few others. The Meghalaya Lokayukta had directed the CBI to probe the illegal coal racket within 15 days for a preliminary report.
Meanwhile, Tynsong maintained that there was no reason for the government to be unhappy with the probe as illegal transportation of coal is being discussed and talked about since 2014.
“There are perceptions among the people that Ministers and the Government as a whole are involved in the illegal transportation of coal. The government has nothing to do with illegal coal transportation. The CBI probe will bring out this fact” he added.
On the names of few government officials surfacing, Tynsong said, “It cannot be said that they are already involved as it is subjected to the process of Inquiry. Let the inquiry be conducted and then only we can come to a conclusion who is involved and who is not,” he added.
According to the petition filed by border resident Abhijit Basumatary, the names of persons allegedly involved in the anomalies are from Meghalaya, Assam and Tripura. The Lokayukta wanted the removal of Meghalaya officials to facilitate a fair probe by the CBI.