Meghalaya seeks exemption from mining laws

Shillong, Sep 21 (IANS) The Meghalaya government has requested the central government to exempt it from mining laws so that coal extraction can continue, Chief Minister Mukul Sangma said on Monday.

He said he had raised the issue with both Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and now Narendra Modi after the National Green Tribunal ordered an interim ban on “rat-hole” coal mining in Meghalaya in April 2014. Coal mining in Meghalaya is ostensibly a part of the “customary tribal rights”.

“We have made out a special case to exempt sixth schedule areas in Meghalaya from the purview of central mining laws for which we are highlighting paragraph 12A (b) of the (constitution’s)Sixth Schedule so that application of central laws in the State relating to mining may be rescinded through a presidential notification,” Sangma said.

The chief minister, who was replying to a calling attention motion moved by opposition Hill State People’s Democratic Party legislator Witting Mawsor, said that invoking of the provision will enable the state government to regulate mining activities in accordance with Meghalaya Mines and Minerals Policy, 2012.

Informing the legislators that the ban on mining and transportation of coal has had adverse impact on the state’s economy and revenue earnings, Sangma said that his government is making all efforts to ensure that NGT ruling vacated.

Moreover, the state government is trying to keep up with the timeline for submission of the draft mining plan which will be able to address the concerns of scientific mining and requirement of statutory laws before the NGT, which recently directed for submission of the mining plan by September 29, he said.

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