Coal mining
Representative image.

Rights activist Agnes Kharshiing and some other concerned citizens of Meghalaya have hailed the Supreme Court judgement on on illegal coal mining in the hill state and urged the government to implement the top court order in letter and spirit.

“The judgment vindicates the National Green Tribunal (NGT)’s banning of environmentally destructive illegal rat hole mining in the state, and clearly states that coal mining should be done as per the existing relevant laws including the Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Act (MMDR Act), 1957, Mines Act 1952, Mineral Concession Rules, 1960, Environmental Protection Act, 1986, etc. meaning that mining has to be done after the necessary recognizance, mining plan, mining lease, environmental clearance by the Central Government,” Agnes Kharshiing, Angela Rangad, Mantre Passah and other concerned citizens said in a statement.

They mentioned that the Court has upheld the jurisdiction of the NGT in the Sixth Schedule areas as well as its appointment of the Katoki committee, disproving the contention of the government that the NGT has no jurisdiction.

The Court also states that the contention of the government that mining lease for privately held/community held land in Meghalaya is “unacceptable and not in good spirit”.

Another important point noted is that the District Councils and the State government have no power to make any law regarding mining lease. All mining lease has to be as per the existing Central laws.

They reiterated that mining should not be at the expense of the environment and people’s rights, including labour rights.

“As concerned citizens who helped prepare the Two Volume Citizen’s Report on Unregulated Coal Mining in Meghalaya, which the Honourable Supreme Court took cognizance, we urge the government to implement this pro-people, pro-environment historic order of the Honorable Supreme Court in letter and spirit and not to wilfully misinterpret this order so as to mislead the citizens of the state,” they said.

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