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SHILLONG | June 28, 2019:

The three-member committee of the National Green Tribunal, headed by retired Justice B P Kakoti  has decided to sought a report from the Meghalaya Government on alleged illegal transportation of coal which is still taking place despite the ban by the Supreme Court.

“We will asked the Government to submit a report on this matter during our next meeting on July 22 & 23,” Kakoti told reporters after the meeting which was held at Sylvan House conference room here today.

According to the chairman of the committee, there are people who have reported before the committee that the illegal transportation is still taking place despite the ban by the apex court on May 31.

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“We have taken strong cognizance to this report especially pertaining to the incident where a coal laden truck capsized in Ri-Bhoi and even the police had registered a case into this case,” he stated.

It may be mentioned that the committee has also received four complaints in Guwahati including one from transport association which claimed that illegal transportation is still taking place in Meghalaya.

Kakoti said that the BSF who was present during the meeting today informed the committee that they have been conducting checking for coal laden trucks crossing the border.

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“But the BSF is not authorised to check the consignment since it is only customs are authorized to check such consignment. But despite the request of the committee, no custom official was present in the meeting,” committee chairman said.

He however maintained that there are no reports of fresh mining in the state even as informing that the Meghalaya Government has claimed that they have put up check gates and have taken action after identifying certain illegal transportation of coal. It may be mentioned that the Committee is also supposed to get a report  from the Meghalaya Government on the installation of the CCTV cameras on July 22.

Meanwhile, Kakoti said that as per the presentation made by the North Eastern Space Application Centre, there are a total of 24392 coal mines in Jaintia Hills.

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“They (NESAC) would submit the report shortly after it has completed the proper mapping of the coal mines about the coal mines in East Jaintia Hills,” he said.

Informing that they have given them inputs relating to the identification of coal dumps and deposits, committee chairman said that they have identified that the drainage and the rivers in East Jaintia Hills are mainly polluted since the water from the existing coal mines are flowing into the rivers.

“Some of them may be abandoned but they are still releasing the water as pits are not closed yet,” he said.

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When asked about its next meeting in Shillong, he said that the sitting to be held next month would depend on the order of the Supreme Court as the constitution of the panel has been challenged before the Supreme Court.

When asked if the 24392 coal mines are still operating, Kakoti said that it is difficult to comment as it has not been ascertained as of now whether people are operating in these coal mines and the number may include abandoned mines as well.

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