No coal mining in Meghalaya sans Central approval of mining plan: Conrad

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Meghalaya Chief Minister Conrad Sangma

SHILLONG, Jan 21: The Chief Minister of Meghalaya, Conrad Sangma has informed that the state government has submitted its mining plan and safety measures to the Directorate General of Mines Safety (DGMS) and is awaiting the approval of the same.

“(We are yet to know) whether DGMS will accept. There is no question of mining (to resume) if DGMS will not accept the mining plan and do not approve the safety measures that are being proposed,” Conrad told reporters here on Monday.

“Therefore we are very clear we want to ensure that livelihood of the people is considered and at the same time norms laid down by Government of India which are standard in the country are followed,” he added.

Coal mining activities in Meghalaya have been banned by the National Green Tribunal (NGT) for the past four years since April 17, 2014.

Conrad had recently led a delegation of the MDA government to seek the intervention of the Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh on the matter.

Also Read: Citizen’s Report reveals unabated coal mining in Meghalaya despite NGT ban

 “We had given a complete presentation on the issue before and after the ban on rat hole mining. After hearing out our proposition and ensuring safe mining, he (Singh) felt that there could be a way out if proper system is followed,” he said.

Stating that the problem of coal mining is multiple layered, Conrad said, it is not only getting exemption from the provisions of the central acts but mining safety has to be worked out.

“It is a process that requires different agencies to come in but things will start moving once we get a structure on how we actually move forward and it requires us to get exemption of the MMDR Act which will allow us in such a manner for our people to continue the mining,” he added.

Conrad meanwhile claimed that the state government had submitted the mining plan multiple times while adding that there were queries from the Ministry of Coal regarding certain issues.

“We have engaged an agency of the Government of India which is an expert in this aspect and those queries have been replied to,” he said while adding “It was not replied for a very long time but then once we came to know about these queries we had written back to them.”

The Meghalaya Legislative Assembly had earlier passed a resolution urging the Centre to issuing a presidential notification under Paragraph 12A(B) of the Sixth Schedule to the Constitution for rescinding the application of the Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Act, 1957 and Coal Mines (Nationalisation) Act, 1973 to the tribal areas of the state of Meghalaya.

Also Read: Jaintia Hills coal mining tragedy: Police makes breakthrough, one arrested

MDA gauging feasibility of continuing coal miners’ rescue operations

The Meghalaya Democratic Alliance (MDA) government will consult experts before it decides on whether or not it will call off the operations currently underway tolocate and rescue 15 miners who have been trapped in a flooded coal mine in East Jaintia Hills (EJH) district.

“We are going to take inputs from all the experts from different organisations that have been working on this,” Chief Minister, Conrad Sangma had said here on Monday while adding, “Once we speak to them and get a report on what is happening on the ground zero then will be able to take a call on it.”

Conrad had made this statement in the wake of reports that the state government is likely to call off these operations.

At least 15 miners were trapped in an illegal coal mine at Khloo Ryngksan in East Jaintia Hills District since December 13, last year.

It was only after a month that the Indian Navy was recently able to detect the body of one of the miners.

In this regard, Conrad said that the operation to retrieve the body which is in a highly decomposed state has been suspended because it is really not working out.

Also Read: Report names cabinet ministers in illegal coal mining activities