In a relief to thousands of people dependent on coal for their livelihood, an expert committee constituted by the National Green Tribunal (NGT) has given consent for transportation of extracted coal under strict environmental guidelines in six districts of Meghalaya.
The committee, headed by the state Additional Chief Secretary K S Kropha, has asked the state government to permit transportation of coal from six districts subject to strict adherence to the 21-point guidelines issued by it.
“A maximum of 9 metric tonnes (MT) will be allowed to be transported by each 2-axle truck, which will be in conformity with the Supreme Court ruling. The transporter will have to ensure that the truck is loaded to permissible load of 9 MT or less,” the committee said in a statement last night.
“The transportation of coal will be in accordance with the transport route as indicated in the Map (submitted to the NGT). Traffic will be regulated by the state police. Speed limit of 40 kmph should be enforced for these trucks,” it said.
To prevent over assessment of extracted coal, the committee has also maintained that all coal owners should maintain registers of declared quantity, assessed quantity, date wise sale, date wise loading and date wise dispatch of coal which will be subjected to the verification of the District administration.
The committee, which had assessed the quantity of extracted coal in these districts, has, however, recommended that seven working days may be kept for preparatory work of printing requisite forms and issue of orders detailing modalities for collection of royalty and issue of Transport Permits while the coal owners will be given 14 days for payment of royalty.
It also recommended that all the concerned departments, besides police and district administration be thoroughly briefed on the guidelines of the committee.
It also directed the Transport Department to issue directions to ensure that all transporters comply with the requirement of a Permanent Fluorescent Line’ on 3 (three) sides of the body of the truck so that the loading is restricted to 9 MT and the trucks be noted for transportation of coal under NGT oder.
The NGT had on August 2 last, upheld its April 17, 2014 interim order banning coal mining in the state after observing that the right to life was far more significant than economic interest of a state or an individual.
“Article 21 of the Constitution of India gives prominence to the right to life than any other interest including economic interest of the State or the individuals,” a bench headed by Justice Swatanter Kumar had said.
The NGT, however, appointed an expert committee with Additional Chief Secretary K S Kropha and Principal Secretary M S Rao as chairman and convener respectively, scientists of the Central and the State Pollution Control Boards besides a professor of the IIT, Guwahati as members.