Shillong, Nov 30: Chief Minister Conrad K Sangma on Wednesday said the state government will examine the report of the Single Member Committee appointed by the Meghalaya High Court, which has suggested the need to frame guidelines for scientific mining of coal in Meghalaya.
Speaking to reporters, Sangma said, “We will definitely examine the points mentioned by the one-member committee and wherever steps need to be taken we will take steps.”
He informed that based on the different guidelines, the Government of India has approved and cleared four mining plans. “We are on track. I am not very clear as to what is the specific requirement of that one-member committee. But, I had a series of meetings today; I had not done the assessment of mining part but as far my information and my knowledge goes the mining plans, whatever has been required in the past, has been done and that is the reason why we are able to clear 4-5 mining plans,” Sangma said.
Asked, the chief minister said that the process is on and that machineries have been installed for scientific mining to start.
“I don’t want to jump the gun right now but machines have already been ordered, some have been installed, some are on the way and we do expect there will be a lot of movement that will take place in the month of January. Let’s hope very soon things will start but I don’t want to give any date because these are technical matters; but a lot of advancement, as I said, even equipment has already been ordered and some of them are being installed,” he said.
The chief minister also said continuous efforts are being made to stop illegal mining and transportation of coal. He said the government is continuously monitoring the situation but mining is an activity, which people of the state have been engaged in for centuries.
“And suddenly in 2014, you come and say that you stop everything that you have been doing for the last 200 years, it is not easy and people depend on their livelihood in this. And hence, they have not been able to do other things in the past and it is not easy. So obviously when the question of livelihood comes in even though the government will engage officials and police and we will do our best to stop them, this is their livelihood. So, there are people who will think about their livelihood and they may go into activities that are not always legal.”
“So there could be cases but the government has put very strict provisions, we have been strengthening the provisions (of law) and we have been implementing them. Therefore, a lot of people have been caught, a lot of people have been stopped, a lot of cases have been filed, a lot of people have been convicted so this process is on,” he said.
“But in the larger picture one has to understand that it is more than a question of illegal mining, it is a question of the livelihood of the people and how can we now slowly shift towards scientific mining at the same time we can shift people’s livelihood to other activities like tourism and agriculture,” the CM added.
“It is a process and therefore the transition does take time and it is challenging with a lot of difficulties and I hope in the coming years, we are able to smoothen up the process,” he said.
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