SHILLONG, Aug 12: The Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP) has promised that it will bring the ongoing woes related to mining activities in Meghalaya within 8 months if the people of the state vote it to power in the ensuing 2018 elections.
“We as a party if voted to power in Meghalaya are making a commitment that we will work with the stakeholders including those in the field of environment protection and come to a comprehensive solution and work it out with the Centre to the satisfaction of the law in the country,” BJP national spokesman Nalin Kohli said here on Saturday.
He went on to set a target by saying, “We will work in towards that and within a time span of 6 to 8 months, if voted to power in 2018.”
His statement came as a reaction on the state government’s decision to propose to the National Green Tribunal (NGT) to allow the Meghalaya Mineral Development Corporation Ltd (MMDC) to take up mining activities in the state as per provisions of the MMDR Act.
An affidavit on this proposal was filed on August 10, by the state government before the NGT, which had imposed a blanket ban against unscientific coal mining for the past three years with several directions to the former to submit a proper mining plan.
It may be mentioned here, the proposal of the state government to allow the MMDC to take up mining activities faced stiff opposition from the mining community during a meeting chaired by the Chief Minister, Dr. Mukul Sangma on April 4, earlier this year.
Dr. Sangma had at that time stated that under section 11 A (3)(a) of the Mines and Minerals (Development & Regulation) Act 1957, the MDDC is eligible to apply for mining lease for operation of coal mine under existing Acts and Rules with the consent of the people of the state.
In reaction to this, Kohli said, “Instead of looking at the issue in totality and instead of submitting a mining plan which the NGT has been asking for, the state government suddenly now said it would like the MMDC to start the mining when elections are just 6 months away.”
He further opined that the state government is not serious about resolving the issue of coal mining in the state and in spite of orders being passed nothing has moved to ensure the state has its own mining plan to regulate mining activities.
Pointing out to peculiar land tenure system in Meghalaya where land belongs to the people, he however said, “Can any such step (like the MMDC, essentially a government agency) be taken without participation of the community and stakeholders keeping in that the situation in the state is very different from that in other parts of the country.”
Accusing the Congress of trying to fool the people ahead of the crucial assembly elections, Kohli said that the government is pretending to try to do something on the issue.
“Our charge against the Meghalaya government is that we have not seen any solution for past three years and we are worried that this pretention of a solution being worked out on the eve of elections is another excuse to fool the people,” he added.
“A government which is not taking decisions, a government which is postponing a problem and sleeping over a problem is not acceptable and the people of the state will not be fooled by this,” he said.
Kohli also opined that six to eight months is a reasonable time for the BJP to be clear on what the solution is and start moving in that direction.
“If the state government decided to deliver a plan by walking to Delhi, they would have taken less than three years,” Kohli said.
Kohli also said that a serious government that has to work knows what is to be done and knows that governance does not work by writing letters.
“If writing letters was governance then perhaps every Chief Minister like the Chief Minister of Meghalaya would write a letter stating please remove poverty, ensure roads, and his job is over. Because of the mechanism of the State and the Centre in the constitutional scheme, you do it in a manner that is prescribed not just send letters as letters can be written between friends only,” he said.
In this regard, he said that the government letters have to be backed with an effort in the right direction. “A letter to somehow transfer blame is only a political move and not an agenda of governance,” he said.
Kohli also alleged that the state government has not been serious on the mining issue and in this regard he said, “Why would it wait for a next date in the NGT and then seek time till the next proceedings?”