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Meghalaya CM says government to announce ‘good news’ pertaining to the start of scientific mining

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SHILLONG, MAY 16: Chief Minister Conrad K Sangma said the government will soon announce ‘good news’ pertaining to the preparation for starting scientific mining of coal in Meghalaya, after the Lok Sabha polls.

Speaking to reporters on Wednesday, Sangma said the process at the government of India level is over and now only the last bit where certain environmental aspects are left at the state government level.

“We do expect that we will be able to take this up and very soon as I said, it’s just a matter of time, right after the election we should be able to give good news to the people,” he said. He further added that, I don’t want to jump the gun because these procedures are happening for the first time, we could have glitches which could again delay things, I don’t expect it, but let’s just keep our fingers crossed, but as I said for the first time treading this path, so it’s not always easy. There are always elements of surprises but I’m hopeful that we should be able to reach a logical conclusion very soon.”

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On the reason for the delay, Sangma said Meghalaya has a unique situation because of the peculiar land tenure system. When the Supreme Court had lifted the coal ban and insisted that scientific mining of coal take place, the government of India did not have norms for a land holding system like Meghalaya, where the land is not owned by the government. Whereas in every other location in the country, the land is owned by the government and any individual, who wants to mine, applies, and takes lease from the government and then mines.

He further explained that the situation in Meghalaya is completely different. It’s the miners and the landowners, who have to do it and for the state government to come into the picture and follow the same procedures as per the norms in the rest of the country, which did not apply to Meghalaya. Therefore, it took more time to discuss with the government of India and come up with different provisions that would be suitable for Meghalaya, keeping in mind the land holding system.

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“Since it happened for the first time, it took more time than we expected and hence the procedure took more time, but as I said, the procedure has been defined now so the toughest part is over. The most difficult part of creating the system, the norms, and the policies for future miners to apply is in place, now” Sangma said.

The Chief Minister has welcomed the recommendation of the Meghalaya High Court’s Single Member Committee and said creating alternative livelihood to the people of the state including the coal rich districts has been in the policy and strategy of the government in the last six years.

” In the last five years the objective of the MDA government is exactly to create alternative livelihood programs and that is why we are focusing on all mission mode programs that we are having,” he said.

Sangma informed that thousands of farmers have benefited from the Lakadong mission implemented by the state government especially in areas where coal mining is prevalent.

“Many SHG groups have been given food processing units and the production has gone up by more than 10 times, and today, the packaged Lakadong, powder, and even curcumin is being exported to countries like Japan, UAE and even to Europe and US,” he added.

Further, the CM also highlighted the other missions such as the self-help group movements where women folks are being included and livelihood business is being provided to them, the PRIME program, CM Elevate etc.

“All these are meant to provide alternative livelihood because the point which I’ve been mentioning from day one, is that everything in terms of the issue of mining revolves around the ecology and the economy, which means that while we’re looking at the environment until unless livelihood of the people are not taken care of, they will continue to depend on coal and therefore, the only way to ensure that in the long term, we’re able to address this problem is to provide long-term alternative livelihood solutions,” he stated.

Also Read: CM meets three Autonomous Districts Councils, constitutes committee for administrative support

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