Amidst the hue the cry from coal miners and coal mines’ owners in the state over the NGT ban in coal mining and the subsequent petition of the state government to take over the coal mining business, Chief Minister Dr Mukul Sangma has justified the State Government’s move stating the process is more like outsourcing the work while keeping the traditional custom intact.
Earlier, the state government has proposed to allow the Meghalaya Mineral Development Corporation Limited (MMDC) to take up coal mining in the State.
Referring to the letter of Vasant Sathe that was addressed to the Meghalaya Government in 1987, Dr Mukul said that the letter has an advisory that Meghalaya Government may utilise the services of Coal India and MMDC to facilitate scientific mining keeping in mind the need to do mining in conformity with the statutory laws in respect of environment, safety and health.
“We are talking about the letter of 1987. All these years none of preceding Governments have acted on this letter. I want to ask who put us to sleep and why did we sleep all these years? ” Chief Minister questioned.
He said that the Government is planning to allow the MMDC to proceed ahead with coal mining in the State pending the Presidential notification rescinding the operational part of the relevant sections of Coal Mines Nationalisation Act,1973.
“The State Government have taken up with the Centre to involve Para 12 AB of the Constitution so that this particular provision of this Act and also relevant provision of the MMDR Act, 1957 is exempted from its operations in respect of the scheduled areas of the State through a Presidential notification rescinding the provision of the Act,” Dr Mukul said.
While further justifying the proposal to allow MMDC to proceed with mining in the State, he said that the MMDC can enter into an agreement with the land owners who also have the ownership over the mines to carry out mining adding that as per the terms and conditions of agreement with the MMDC, the land owners as per tradition also have the right to mine and this benefit will be passed on to the miners.