NGT Ban on Meghalaya Coal Mining Leading to Closure of Cachar Paper Mill


NGT Ban on Meghalaya Coal Mining Leading to Closure of Cachar Paper Mill

The ban on coal mining in Meghalaya by the National Green Tribunal (NGT) is having its affect in other related industries as it is leading to the closure of the Cachar Paper Mill in Panchgram, Assam. The mill is a unit of the Hindustan Paper Corporation and has been facing financial crisis on account non-operation of the mill due to non-availability of coal.

Minister of Heavy Industries and Public Enterprises Babul Supriyo said in the Lok Sabha yesterday that because of the coal mining ban imposed by the NGT in Meghalaya the Cachar Paper Mill has been operating erratically, leading to huge financial losses as the entire coal requirement of the mill used to come from Meghalaya. The house was also informed that coal cannot be procured from other sources as there is no broad-gauge linkage inside the mill premises, leading to shutting down of the mill every now and then for the last few years, due to shortage of raw material thereby incurring huge losses.

To overcome these challenges, a number of steps are being taken by the Central government, which has provided grant for meeting the operational costs of the mill. The NGT banned coal mining and its transportation last year after a petition was filed against the unscientific methods being carried out in the state which causes widespread pollution, especially in water bodies. The NGT had ruled that adequate precautions must be put in place to ensure safeguard of the environment before mining can restart.


Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Coal scam: Supreme Court panel indicts former CBI chief Ranjit Sinha


The apex court-appointed panel is investigating alleged scuttling of probe into coal block allocation scam cases by Ranjit Sinha.

Former CBI Director Ranjit Sinha has been indicted by a Supreme Court-appointed panel which has held that prima facie there was an attempt to influence investigation into the coal block allocation scam.

The court also pulled up CBI for its sluggish probe in the coal scam that had taken place during the UPA government’s tenure and directed the agency to complete the investigation expeditiously.

The apex court, which is monitoring the probe into Coalgate, was Tuesday told by Attorney General Mukul Rohatgi that the panel headed by former CBI special director M L Sharma has held that Sinha’a meetings with some of the high- profile accused in the scam prima facie indicated that there was an attempt to influence the investigation.


Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Stop import of coal, buy coal from CIL, Secy tells states


Anil Swarup said that the dues to be paid to Coal India have gone up significantly which might result into pushing the company into red

Concerned over no takers for the coal produced by Coal India (CIL), the Centre today asked state-owned power generation firms to immediately stop imports of the fuel and instead buy coal from the company.

“We have coal but there aren’t many takers for it. It is in this context that let me request the delegates from the states which are currently importing coal should immediately stop the imports because Coal India will offer coal to them,”Union Coal Secretary Anil Swarup said during the inauguration of a two-day conference on power here.

He said all the states, specially the generation companies, can work out a strategy to see how they can totally eliminate import of coal for the purpose of power generation.
“We have a very ambitious target of about a billion tonne of coal production by Coal India by 2020. But the problem is that if we are not going to pick up the coal which we are producing now (which is 550 million tonne) then what we will do with the one billion tonne of coal that we are coming up with,” he said. Therefore, it is necessary to plan for realistic requirement of coal in coming few years, Swarup said.

Coal India has set up a whole set of process for auctioning the coal for private companies and as much as 8 million tonne will be offered every month to regulated power sector or to be picked up by private sector.

“As far as state gencos are concerned, we are open for discussion, you (gencos) give a number and we will provide you the coal that you want,” he added. Swarup also appealed to the states to commence work on the coal blocks allotted to them.

“We have taken pride in coal block allocation or coal block auction. But the problem is that some of the coal blocks allocated to some of the state governments have not started producing coal.

“This is serious in terms of loss of revenue to the state government. The more you mine from there the more benefit would be accrued to the state. Centre does not gain much out of it,” he said.

Swarup also said that the dues to be paid to Coal India have gone up significantly which might result into pushing the company into red. “Dues to be paid to Coal India have gone up significantly. Last year it was around Rs 1,200 crore. We need to look into it and start paying. I don’t want it to becomes a sick company on account of non-payment. I have been getting calls from chief secretaries to continue supply of coal despite non payments. We don’t intend stop supply of coal,” he added.

Swarup further said the Centre has taken the decision to rationalise the linkages to cut down on the transportation cost of the coal. “On the one hand we are trying to rationalise coal linkages to save cost on transporation..We can also divert coal of inefficient plant to efficient one. But this requires a lot of planning and details,” he said.

The Secretary further said that the introduction of the dispute resolution mechanism in the sector has been paying excellent results.

“We have also put in place a dispute resolution mechanism. This (dispute mechanism) has already started functioning and we have managed to settle a large number of cases. I believe all such disputes between Centre and states relating to coal should be settled through this mechanism,” he added.

Referring to the complaints of bad quality of product from Coal India, Swarup said, “the company has put in place the regime wherein it has been their endeavour to ensure that good quality coal is made available. At least the quality of coal that is professed to be given is given to state gencos.”


Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

In Meghalaya, end of mining activity has workers facing an uncertain future

Ladrymbai (East Jaintia Hills): For Mohammed Abdullah, May 15 is an important, and probably a life-changing, date. The 45-year-old, a resident of Barpeta, Assam, will return home having worked in and around the coal mines of East Jaintia Hills, Meghalaya, for the past nine years. He says he has had enough of the mines, and will go back to farming in his native village. However, this is not the result of a change of heart on the part of Abdullah; rather, he knows well that after May 15, once the government takes over all the over-ground coal reserves, he will have little to do here and sitting idle for even a day is not something that the father of three children can afford.


Dumping grounds like this, in Kong Ong village, dot the entire district of East Jaintia Hills

On n April 17, 2014, the National Green Tribunal in an interim order had banned the rat hole mining in Meghalaya, a sector that had for long been blamed for the environmental destruction of the once-pristine areas of the Jaintia Hills. Over the past two years, the mine owners, who are known to have powerful political connects, have appealed against the ban, which they believe has crippled the local economy and left thousands jobless. However, in December 2015, the NGT, after three extensions to transport all the coal on the ground, gave the final ultimatum to the miners: clear all remaining extracted and assessed coal from Meghalaya by May 15 because after that, the government will have the power to confiscate the rest of the coal left.


Workers load coal into trucks. Any coal left on the ground after May 15 will be confiscated by the government as per NGT orders

With no jobs in sight, labourers ill-prepared for future

While Meghalya is often presented as an ideal destination for tourists, East Jaintia Hills, a district that was formed as recently as 2014, is slightly different. Vast meadows and lush landscapes are interspersed with mounds of coal lying across hundreds of dumping grounds. The coal and the economy it fuels, means that the district also has migrants from all over Meghalaya and other areas, like Assam, West Bengal, and even Nepal. But since the ban of coal mining came into force in 2014, thousands of workers have left the place in search of other job opportunities. Although mining in the area has been going for over 100 years, the activity has hardly been regulated and as a result, the impact on the local flora and fauna has been catastrophic; a point that was cited as one of the most important reasons for banning mining in the area. The top soil has been completely eroded and left unusable for any kind of agricultural activity and dried out dozens of streams in the area, leaving the main river, Myntdu, gasping for survival. The river, according to locals, is 75% dead and no longer carries any fish. Houses and building lined up against the National Highway are all covered in thick black smoke from trucks and fine coal deposits.


Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Nagaland coal: Affected by falling prices


While the Nagaland State Government struggles with streamlining the coal business, prospectors in the coal-rich belt of Mokokchung district are grappling with a falling price phenomenon. The price slump has slowed exports as miners fail to get a fair price from buyers in Assam.

The slump, which has refused to show any sign of upturn for over a year, has brought work almost to a halt in several mines under Mangkolemba sub-division, particularly those located in sections of the Changkikong, Japukong ranges and the Tzurang river valley.

From Rs. 4000-4500 a ton in 2014, the rates (given to miners) have currently dropped to Rs. 1600-2200. Miners from the area say the dip began around the beginning of 2015 and has not risen since. However, according to a miner, the same (Nagaland) coal was trading at Rs. 6500-7000 a ton in Guwahati during the first week of April 2016. It may be noted that coal from the said locations passes through Mariani, Jorhat and Guwahati enroute other destinations. The rate fixed by the Nagaland government holds no bearing.

Not discounting the downturn in international coal prices, the miners point to local factors that have actually contributed to the slump in business. Government restriction on payload, ‘middlemen’, multiple taxation and increased labour costs have all, in parts, contributed.

Govt restrictions & middlemen

The introduction of a Nagaland State government-authorised weighbridge at Longtho valley (bordering Assam) has upset buyers and contractors from Mariani, say miners. The weighbridge was installed in 2014 to put a check on the maximum cargo weight a truck can carry, for safety as well as revenue reasons. Along with it, a maximum payload of 20 tonnes per truck was enforced.

Earlier, when there was no such restriction, a truck could carry over 30 tonnes, which translated into a good profit margin for both the buyer and the seller (miner, in Nagaland’s case). “Now, with the restriction in place, it has narrowed the profit margin for the buyer, who no longer is willing to pay the pre-2015 rate,” says one miner.

Transporting 60 tonnes would require three trips for a truck, which means that the transporter has to incur additional transport costs, besides paying statutory as well as unsolicited taxes at check-posts.

It, however, has not prevented the more adventurous buyers, as they allegedly bribe their way through carrying well over the 20-ton limit. Rs. 200 is service charge at the weighbridge, plus Rs. 500, if the buyer wants to carry beyond the specified weight limit, it was informed. This, while they continue to buy cheap coal from miners in Nagaland desperate to dispose of the piling up mineral.

Before, according to the miner, a truckload of around 30 tonnes could fetch a seller Rs. 90,000-1,00,000. The buyer from Mariani could double or even triple the amount supplied to bigger buyers based in Guwahati, making good profit even after deducting expenses, inclusive of taxes statutory as well as illegitimate.

Now, the rates offered to miners have been cut by 50 percent.
These factors are influenced by alleged pressures from a lobby exerting control from across the State boundary at Mariani. According to miners, this lobby, dubbed as ‘coal syndicate’ or ‘middlemen’, control the rate chart of coal from the areas mentioned above. It allegedly prevents parties from outside Mariani, big companies included, to make direct deals with miners, while also creating artificial price fluctuations. “This force ensures that any coal that goes out from here has to pass through it.”


“Taxation starts from the mines,” a miner said, adding that a Naga National group charges Rs. 30,000 as annual tax on any active mine. Transporters are charged separately per shipment on the road. Aside from the statutory tax to the nodal government agency, other government agencies at the inter-State checkpost, including the police, have to be monetarily satiated.

Put together, the pressures on individual miners of Nagaland have increased so much so that production has reduced on the one hand. On the other, whatever is mined is sold at unfair rates. These factors need to be studied by the Nagaland State Government while taking up policy initiatives.


Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

As CIL mines more, coal imports shrink a fourth


With Coal India Ltd’s (CIL) output growing 8.5% to 536 million tonne (mt) during 2015-16, 42 mt more than the previous fiscal, country’s imports have come down by more than a fourth to 15.54 mt from 21.42 mt a year ago, coal secretary Anil Swarup has said.

With CIL expected to mine coal at a faster rate in the current financial year, imports would fall more, said India Ratings in a research report on Wednesday.

“Given the increase in domestic coal output, imports into India will decline, which is likely to exert pressure on volumes of large coal importers. As we expect CIL output to increase by 10% in 2016-17, or nearly 54 mt or equivalent to 32 mt imported coal, the volume decline in imported coal could be higher,” the ratings agency said.

Higher coal output was possible because of increased availability of railway rakes from 194 per day during 2014-15 to 212 during 2015-16, and acquisition of 5,549 hectares of land, Swarup claimed.

With domestic coal largely meeting need of most of the power plants, there might not be any big need for them to raise imports.

“Coal prices are already at its lowest in the last four years. They are not expected to move much from current levels,” Siva Subramanian, associate director, India Ratings, told dna.

However, with landed cost of imported coal at the east coast almost at par with the landed cost of domestic coal, power plants would now increasingly substitute imported variety.

Country’s largest power producer NTPC Ltd has reportedly decided not to import any coal this year.

Record coal production by CIL and off-take has resulted in unprecedented 28-day average inventory of coal at power plants.

“With higher availability of coal, many of the power plants which didn’t have access to the domestically produced fuel would be able to operate on an optimal level,” Subramanian said.

The other side of the story is that with poor demand of power, many of the power plants are now running at suboptimal level with plant load factor at a low 61-65%, said Subramanian.


Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

No extracted coal to be moved from Meghalaya after May 15: NGT

NEW DELHI: No extracted coal would be allowed to be transported from Meghalaya after May 15 when the state government will take it over and will be free to sell or auction it, the National Green Tribunal has said.

The green panel, however, allowed the state government’s plea seeking extension of time for payment of royalty along with environmental charges to the Meghalaya Environmental Restoration Fund from February 15 till April 15.

“We specifically decline to extend the date for transportation of the coal already extracted. No coal in any form whatsoever shall be permitted to be transported after May 15, 2016 on which date the entire remaining coal shall vest in the State government and shall be disposed of in accordance with law subject to due protection and care for environment and prevention of pollution resulting there from, either by washing of coal or by transportation,” a bench headed by NGT Chairperson Justice Swatanter Kumar said.

During the proceedings, Meghalaya government said it has taken up the matter with regard to mining policy and environmental restoration with the Centre.

“The Joint Secretary of the Ministry of Coal of central government has decided to visit the site in question as well as to have deliberation with the State Government where upon the said mining plan would be finalised and published. He prays for time for this purpose. The counsel appearing for the MoEF as well as Coal Ministry submit that they would expedite the matter,” the bench noted.

It also appointed five advocates as local commissioners, in addition to earlier commisioners, and directed them to conduct surprise inspection in the areas where mining activity was being carried out.

“The state government in consultation with the MoEF, shall submit a report within four weeks mentioning as to what steps they are proposing to take for restoration of the environment and ecology, particularly protection of water bodies resulting from legal or illegal mining, unscientific or unregulated mining that has taken place in the previous years,” the bench added.

On December 23 last year, the green panel had extended the time for transportation of extracted coal in Meghalaya till May 15 and fixed February 15 as the last date for payment of royalty, after the state government had said if the extracted coal is not transported before the rainy reason, then it may cause pollution in rivers.


Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Coal India asked to conduct long-term hydrologic study of rivers

NEW DELHI: State-run Coal India Ltd (CIL) has been asked to conduct urgently a long-term hydrologic study of all rivers/river basins where the company has planned more than one mining project.

In a recent meeting, Expert Appraisal Committee (EAC), under the Environment Ministry, informed this to CIL while examining the company’s Rs 152 crore proposal to set up Jagannathpur open-cast mining project on the catchment area of Mahan river in Surajpur district, Chhattisgarh.

The EAC examines and recommends green clearances to the projects. Based on its views, the ministry gives a final nod.

“The EAC was of the view that a long-term study should be urgently initiated by CIL to ensure the protection of hydrological regimes of not only Mahan river and its catchment area but all other rivers/river basins where more than one project is planned,” a senior government official said.

In case washeries are also planned in the same areas, EAC has said that the impact of washeries should also be included in the long-term study, the official said.

In the last meeting, the EAC gave nod to CIL for preparation of ‘Terms of Reference’ for the Jagannathpur opencast mining project for a production capacity of 3 million tonnes per annum in 686.15 hectare in Surajpur district.

The company has, however, been asked to prepare an additional scope of study to ensure protection of hydrology of the area, particularly the flow of water in Mahan river.

CIL has also been asked to examine the option of underground mining instead of opencast mining. In case, the company opts for opencast mining, then it has been asked to exclude the mining area through which the nallas pass.

In case these two options are not feasible because of technical problems and loss of substantial amount of coal, CIL has been advised to divert the nallas in a way that the natural contours and flows are maintained.

CIL, a major supplier of coal to the power sector, is aiming for one billion tonnes of production by 2020. It has a target to achieve 550 million tonnes output in the current fiscal.


Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Meghalaya CM Hopeful of Coal Mining Resumption


Chief Minister of Meghalaya, Dr. Mukul Sangma has expressed his confidence that the ongoing ban on coal mining in Meghalaya that has been imposed by the National Green Tribunal (NGT) will be removed and that coal mining will soon resume in the State.

Replying to a motion on, Dr. Sangma said that once the guidelines on coal mining in Meghalaya and the invoking of Para 12 A (b) of the Sixth Schedule are approved, mining in Meghalaya can be resumed. The State Assembly had adopted a resolution in 2014 to urge the Centre for invoking Para 12 A (b) of the Sixth Schedule through a Presidential notification to ensure that operation of the relevant provisions of the Mines and Minerals Development and Regulation Act 1957 and Coal Mines Nationalization Act, 1973 are exempted in Meghalaya.

Sangma added that the state government’s exercise to prevail upon the Centre to invoke the relevant provision of Para 12 A (b) of the Sixth Schedule of the Constitution has not been ignored and asked the leaders to prevail upon the people so that they demonstrate the spirit of responsible mining while continuing with their rights.


Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

Meghalaya: NGT demands names of 20 mine owners

SHILLONG: The National Green Tribunal (NGT) has set a precondition to the State government to provide the names of as many as 20 mine owners, whose mines are being used for illegal extraction of coal, before fulfilling the demand of the government to extend the date of payment of royalty till April 15.

Earlier, a deadline of May 15 was set by the NGT to complete the whole process of transportation of already extracted coal.

A hearing on the request of the Meghalaya government to extend the date for payment of royalty was held in Delhi on Thursday, but the Tribunal wanted the names of the mine owners to be provided on the next date of hearing.

Supreme Court lawyer and counsel for the State government, Ranjan Mukherjee, informed over phone from Delhi that the NGT wanted the complete names and addresses of the miners whose mines are being used for carrying out illegal mining of coal before taking a decision on the extension of date for payment of royalty.

Mukherjee said the Tribunal did not want the names of drivers and carriers of coal, but those mine owners who are responsible for carrying out illegal mining.

Mukherjee also asked the State government to complete the exercise of identifying the miners and keeping their names ready.

According to Mukherjee, since the matter is serious, a Bench consisting of five members will hear the matter on Tuesday at 10:30 AM as the first item.


Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment