Meghalaya Forest and Environment minister Prestone Tynson on Thursday said that framing of mining policy in the context of open cast mining in the coal mining areas of the state is impossible and the only solution to the problem is to seek an exemption for rat hole mining with necessary environmental safeguards from the Centre.
Tynson said that as per experts open cast mining is not possible in the coal mining areas of Meghalaya due to the peculiar nature of mines, and in this regard, a mining policy cannot solve the current problem. According to Tynsong, the open cast mining is not appropriate since the coal seams (layers) are thin, and hence controlled rat hole mining by adopting safe and secure standards ensuring safety of workers and environment is the need of the hour.
The Minister pointed out that the Coal India Limited made an attempt to carry out open cast mining in Garo Hills in the past, but it had to abandon the plan. Tynsong said that the best option is to secure exemption from Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation Act 1957 and Coal Mines Nationalization Act, 1973 through a presidential notification. The State Assembly had earlier adopted a resolution urging the Centre for invoking para 12 A (b) of the Sixth Schedule through a presidential notification to ensure the relevant provisions of the two central mining acts is exempted for operation in Meghalaya.