Meghalaya Coal mine owners can finally heave a temporary sigh of relief after lawyers battled hard to ensure transportation of extracted coal will be allowed till May 15, 2016 with royalty payment being extended up February 15, 2016.
The National Green Tribunal (NGT) Court however took a strong stance against illegal coal mining with the Court asking all remaining coal after the deadline of May 15 to be seized and auctioned by the state government. The relief comes in the wake of the threat by the National Green Tribunal (NGT) that sought auctioning of all extracted coal immediately due to the laxity shown by the state government in terms of pushing the Mining Plan through.
The passing of the order will come as a welcome relief for both the state as well coal mine owners as seizure of extracted coal had loomed large upon all involved. The mining plan submitted by the Meghalaya government had earlier been rejected by the Coal Ministry with the Court asking the government to resubmit the plan within 4 weeks and to also push the plan through quickly.
Instances of illegal coal mining which had been pointed out by NGT local commissioners had created a huge impact as the NGT had refused to extend transportation dates again due to it. There was also discrepancy related to the exact amount of the extracted coal.
“The hearing continued through three days from the 21st to 23rd of December as the Court was not happy with the appeals from the state. We argued yesterday on behalf of the South Garo Hills coal miners seeking for the extension of transportation dates as we still have a lot of extracted coal to be transported”, said advocate Saurabh Sharma over phone from New Delhi.
Sharma however added that the Court till Tuesday had been adamant in auctioning the extracted coal. “We argued for over an hour yesterday (Tuesday) on the subject as it would be a huge setback to all coal miners if the same order had been passed. We managed to get the NGT to allow further extension to the dates of transportation which at one point appeared bleak”, added Sharma.
He further confirmed that the state has now been given a four week deadline to resubmit the mining plan or all remaining coal after the deadline would have to be seized. “Transportation of extracted coal can begin immediately after receipt of the order by the state. It would not have been possible if not for the persistence of the miners from South Garo Hills”, he said.