The decision of the Meghalaya government over industrial areas has irked the members of the Khasi Hills Autonomous District Council (KHADC).
The Meghalaya government has announced that industrial areas would not fall within the jurisdiction of Autonomous District Councils (ADCs) and traditional institutions.
A notification stating that industrial areas fall outside the jurisdiction of ADCs and traditional institutions was issued by the state commerce and industries department on May 29 this year.
But the issue was brought to light only on Thursday by KHADC member from Nongkrem constituency, Lambor Malngiang when he participated in a Zero Hour discussion of the KHADC council session.
The discussion was held on “alienation of power and authority of the KHADC over land, water, forests, minerals, etc. which resulted from the application of state and Central laws and notification.”
The Zero Hour notice was initiated by KHADC’s leader of Opposition, Lamphrang Blah.
Malngiang, who is also the chairman of the Meghalaya State Planning Board, said the notification issued by the state commerce and industries department was a clear attempt to take away powers of the district councils.
He said if the notification is allowed to be implemented, the district councils would not have any control over the land.
The council would not also have any more power to issue ‘no objection certificate’ for setting up of industrial units or taking up of other projects in such areas.
According to the notification, such areas are such as the Export Promotion Industrial Park, and Extended Export Promotion Industrial Park at Byrnihat, Industrial Area at Umïam in Ri-Bhoi District, Shillong Industrial Estate, Short Round Road, Polo Hills and Shillong, East Khasi Hills district.
The other areas are Industrial estate, Khliehtyrshi; West Jaiñtia Hills district, Nongstoiñ Industrial Estate at Mawïaban Nongstoiñ in West Khasi Hills district and Tura Industrial Estate at Matchakolgre, Tura in West Garo Hills District.
Growth Centre at Mendipathar and Mendipathar Industrial Estate in North Garo Hills District, and Williamnagar Industrial Estate in East Garo Hills district are owned by the state government of Meghalaya in the commerce & industries department and as such, “do not fall under the jurisdiction of Autonomous District Councils nor under any traditional bodies/institutions.”
Nongstoiñ MDC, Gabriel Wahlang said the role of district councils should not be just issuing ‘no objection certificate’ to set up factories or companies that wanted to take different activities in scheduled areas.
“The district councils after issuing the NOC, should also find out activities carried out by factories or firms as to ensure that they do not exploit the resources in our land,” Wahlang said, while demanding that the KHADC should have a monitoring committee to look into such exploitations.
Mylliem MDC, Ronnie V. Lyngdoh said there are state and central laws that are binding to the scheduled areas, but in the matter of mining, Central laws such as the Coal Nationalization Act and Mines and Minerals Development and Regulation (MMDR) Act can be exempted from scheduled areas of Meghalaya by invoking Para 12 (a)(b) of the Sixth Schedule.
Lyngdoh, however, pointed out that the recent Supreme Court judgment has made it mandatory that Central laws related to mining have to be applied in scheduled areas of Meghalaya.
Members of the KHADC urged the executive committee and the chief executive member (CEM), Teiñwell Dkhar to contest against the notification issued by the commerce and industries department, and files a review petition in connection with the recent ruling of the Apex Court on application of Central laws related to mining.
In his reply, the CEM assured to take up with chief minister, Conrad K. Sangma and his cabinet colleagues regarding the notification issued by the commerce and industries department.
“If there is a way, we will also file a review petition in connection with Apex Court ruling on application of Central laws related to mining. The Council has to also work together with the state government especially when it comes to matters that have to be dealt with the Centre,” Dkhar said.
He also said that special session of the council may be convened to discuss important issues and take a collective decision.