Meghalaya seeks exemption from coal mining law

Shillong, June 24 (IANS) The Meghalaya cabinet on Friday decided to urge the central government to exempt the state from the purview of the Coal Mines (Nationalisation) Act, 1973, following the National Green Tribunal’s ban on rat-hole coal mining in the state.

“The cabinet has mandated the state’s mining and geology department to take up with the central government to exempt coal mining in Meghalaya from the purview of the Coal Mines (Nationalisation) Act, 1973,” Chief Minister Mukul Sangma told the media.

Section 3 of the Coal Mines (Nationalisation) Act, 1973, states that the right, title, interest of the owners in relation to the coal mines shall vest absolutely with the central government.

Following the National Green Tribunal’s ban on rat-hole coal mining in the state, the Meghalaya government has taken up with the central government its bid to invoke Para 12 A (b) of the Sixth Schedule through a Presidential notification to exempt the state from the central law.

“We have had several discussions on this issue since last year and we have almost completed it. Therefore, the cabinet has mandated the mining and geology department to take up the issue and expedite the process of getting the state exempted from the Coal Mines (Nationalisation) Act, 1973,” the chief minister informed the media.

Moreover, Sangma said his government had come up with its Mines and Minerals Policy, 2012, to regulate mining activities in the state.

The green court had ordered an interim ban on “rat-hole” coal mining in Meghalaya from April 17, 2014, after the All Dimasa Students’ Union and the Dima Hasao District Committee filed an application before the tribunal alleging that the water of the Kopili river was turning acidic due to coal mining in Jaintia Hills.

Coal mining in Meghalaya is ostensibly part of the “customary tribal rights”.

–IANS

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