SHILLONG, Feb 09: The People’s Democratic Front (PDF) has promised to come up with a state mining policy which is in tandem with the provisions of the Constitution of India if it is voted to power in the ensuing State Assembly elections.
“We will come up with a state mining policy which will be as per the provision of the 6th Schedule to the Constitution of India,” the party’s chief ministerial candidate, PN Syiem said after releasing the party manifesto here on Friday.
Stating that mining in the state needs not follow the Mines and Mineral (Development & Regulation) Act, 1957, Syiem said that this is because the president can exempt central acts from being applicable in the state by notification.
Syiem also slammed Chief Minister, Dr. Mukul Sangma for proposing the Meghalaya Mineral Development Corporation Limited (MMDC) to carry out coal mining on behalf of the mine owners in the state as per provision of MMDR Act.
According to him, implementation of the MMDR Act will create a problem in the state which has a peculiar land tenure system where land belongs to the people and not the government.
The state government after the ban on coal mining which was imposed by the National Green Tribunal (NGT) in 2014 had passed a resolution urging the Centre to invoke Para 12 A (b) of the 6th Schedule to ensure provisions of the central laws related to coal mining is exempted in Meghalaya.
Asked whether his party is supporting this move of the state government, Syiem, who is also the Chief Executive Member (CEM) of the Khasi Hills Autonomous District Council (KHADC) said that as of now it is not clear whether it is the district councils or the state government which should pass such a resolution.
“Therefore, there is need for a joint coordination between state government and the autonomous district councils (ADCs) with regards to the mining policy where instead of the MMDR method, the method of 6th Schedule should be adopted,” he said.
The party also seeks to resolve the age-old boundary dispute with Assam by taking into consideration the provision of the Sixth Schedule and North Eastern Areas (Reorganization) Act.
Syiem said that only discussing with the state’s counterparts in Assam is not enough. Rather, there is a need to collect documents to substantiate that the disputed areas belong to Meghalaya.
“The state government in fact needs to work hand in hand with the traditional heads to prepare these documents,” he said while adding that maximum infrastructure is also needed in the border areas.
On the issue of influx, Syiem said that the party will strengthen the Sixth Schedule to deal with this contentious issue related to influx and illegal immigration into the state.
With regards to the party’s stand on implementation of the Inner Line Permit (ILP), he said that the Chief Minister is adopting the entry/exit mechanism but the PDF will have different mechanisms.
“In as far as the ILP is concerned, that will be part of the discussion to decide on the best method that can be adopted,” he added.
The PDF also said that it would also come up with various policies relating to power, education, sports, youth, tourism, skill development, agriculture, food processing, labour, organic, road, water and transport.
According to Syiem, it is unfortunate that the state still adopts Assam regulations despite of 46 years of statehood due to the failures of the successive governments led by the Congress.
Besides seeking to empower the autonomous district councils and traditional heads, the party also said that it would take up with the Centre for transferring authority over land in 6th Schedule from Home Ministry to the Tribal Affairs.
It also resolved to pursue the issue of inclusion of the Khasi language in the Eight Schedule to the Constitution of India and also fight against corruption by introducing e-governance in the state.