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Meghalaya CM hails Supreme Court order on mining

twitter-logoPTI | July 3, 2019 | Updated 20:03 IST

Shillong, July 3 (PTI) Meghalaya Chief Minister Conrad K Sangma Wednesday hailed the Supreme Court's order allowing mining operations in privately and community owned land in the state, subject to the permissions from the concerned authorities. The judgment is the victory of the people, specially of the tribal community and its most important part is that the tribal rights have been recognised, he said. "The fact that the Supreme Court 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," the chief minister said in a statement here. "This is the biggest victory, biggest aspect of the judgment as a whole," he said. Sangma said his government is yet to receive the official judgement but "from the basic gist we have been made to understand that the ban that was put in place by the National Green Tribunal has been set aside by the Supreme Court". The Supreme Court Wednesday directed the Meghalaya government to deposit the Rs 100 crore fine imposed on it by the NGT for failing to curb illegal coal mining with the Central Pollution Control Board. The NGT had fined the Meghalaya government on January 4. During the hearing, the state government had admitted that a large number of mines were operating illegally in the northeastern state. The apex court bench of Justices Ashok Bhushan and K M Joseph directed the state administration to hand over the illegally extracted coal to Coal India Limited (CIL), which will auction it and deposit the funds with the state government. Sangma said the SC has accepted the contention of the state government that the Rs 100 crore penalty imposed by NGT would cause hardship to Meghalaya and has directed that the money be paid from the Meghalaya Environment Protection and Restoration Fund, which was created for collecting penalties from persons who are engaged in illegal mining. Therefore, the burden of the fine has not been imposed on the state government but on the illegal miners and transporters of illegally mined coal. The state government have in the past penalized such miners and transporters for violations, he added. The chief minister said that from now on proper, scientific and systematic mining should be ensured by adhering to rules and by ensuring utmost concern to the environmental aspect. He also advised the people to strike a balance between economy and ecology while undertaking mining activities. Fifteen miners were trapped on December 13 last year in an illegal rat-hole coal mine at Ksan in East Jaintia Hills district of Meghalaya, about 3.7 km deep inside a forest, when water from the nearby Lytein river gushed into it. Only two bodies could be recovered from the mine. The apex court had earlier refused to allow the transportation of extracted coal lying across Meghalaya despite several requests by the miners. PTI JOP KK SOM SOM

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