View of a coal mine and (right) Meghalaya chief minister Conrad K. Sangma. Image credit - The Hindu/Twitter

Meghalaya chief minister Conrad K. Sangma has claimed that the Supreme Court during its judgment on Wednesday set aside the NGT ban on coal mining in the state.

However, the official judgment of the Supreme Court is yet to be made available, informed Chief Minister’s Office (CMO), Meghalaya.

In a press communiqué, the CMO, Meghalaya stated that the Supreme Court on Wednesday paved the way for operationalising coal mining in Meghalaya under the relevant statutory framework of the MMDR Act, 1957.

The Meghalaya chief minister has hailed the judgment of the Supreme Court, which has “set aside the ban on coal” by the National Green Tribunal (NGT) and has given a judgment that has recognised the rights of the tribals.

Also read: Illegal coal mining: SC directs Meghalaya govt to deposit Rs 100 cr fine

“The official judgment has not come out as yet but the basic gist of what we have been made to understand is that the ban that was put in by the NGT has been set aside by the SC and that the ban has been lifted,” said the chief minister.

He welcomed the judgment by saying that the most important part of the judgment is the fact that the tribal rights have been recognised.

“The fact that SC has come out with a judgment which states that the land and the resources are of the owners is landmark and historic, as it gives back the entire ownership to the people. This is the biggest victory, biggest aspect of the judgment as a whole,” the chief minister added.

He further said that Meghalaya has to realise the lesson learned with the ban on coal mining and its impact on the economy and should move on from now onwards by ensuring mining that is proper, scientific and systematic by adhering to rules and by ensuring utmost concern to the environmental aspect.

Conrad Sangma congratulated the legal team headed by advocate general Amit Kumar for all the preparations and legal formalities that were presented before the court challenging the NGT order.

“The legal team has worked tirelessly and has ensured that all necessary paper works were put in placed. There was no movement of any sort by the previous government, we challenged the order of the NGT and the hardwork put in by the legal team has yielded result,” the chief minister said.

Welcoming the decision of the SC, the chief minister credited the judgment as victory of the people, especially the tribal community.

He also had a word of advice to the people to undertaken mining by striking a balance between economy and the ecology.

He informed that SC has accepted the contention of the state government that a penalty of Rs 100 crore as imposed by the NGT would cause hardship to the small state of Meghalaya and has therefore directed that the amount of Rs. 100 crore be paid from the MEPRF Fund, which was created for collecting fines/penalties from persons who were engaged in illegal mining, stated the CMO.

Therefore, the burden of the fine has not been imposed on the state government but rather on the illegal miners and transporters of illegally mined coal, who the state government has continuously penalized for violations.

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