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Meghalaya HC asks govt to inquire if limestone license is being misused for export

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SHILLONG, JUNE 24: The Meghalaya High Court on Thursday directed the state authorities to ascertain whether the license issued for mining of limestone is misused by way of exporting the mining mineral to any country.

“The State’s affidavit should deal with such aspect of the matter upon ascertaining whether any license issued to any person for mining limestone as a minor mineral is being misused by exporting the mining mineral to any country,” said a two-member bench in its order while hearing a PIL filed by one Lawyerson War.

War had reported that challans like the one he  has produced in Court today (Thursday) are being used for persons to cite the same as a license to export the limestone to a neighbouring country, though the license issued is by treating limestone as a minor mineral.

A license for mining limestone as a minor mineral may only be issued if the end-use of the product is as a building material. Surely, exporting the goods to another country will not amount to the mineral being used for building material even if the same were used for building material in the other country.

The petitioner informed that he has obtained a copy of a challan pertaining to limestone mining that brings to light the irregularities in such regard.

He complained that since the institution of the present proceedings, requests made by the petitioner under the Right to Information Act, 2005 have gone unheeded.

The petitioner will disclose the relevant challan and the connected documents by way of an affidavit.

The court however said the source of obtaining the challan need not be disclosed, since the State will confirm whether the copy document is authentic or not.

It also directed that the State should also ensure that the reasonable questions put to the appropriate Department under the Act of 2005 are dealt with in accordance with law.

“While dealing with RTI queries sometimes becomes extremely tiresome and time-consuming, since the right has now been conferred, the infrastructure for the fruition of such right must be created. At any rate, the more such facts come to light, the better the existing malaise may be treated,” it said.

Further, the court has directed the petitioner to file his supplementary affidavit within a week from date and the State’s response thereto should be filed within a fortnight thereafter.

The next hearing on the matter has been scheduled on July 25.

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