Meghalaya submits draft mining guidelines to NGT

Shillong, Sep 29 (IANS) The Meghalaya government on Tuesday submitted draft mining guidelines for coal mining activities in the state to the NGT following the interim ban on coal mining since April 2014 in the state.

“We have submitted the draft mining guidelines prepared by Meghalaya’s mining and geology department for coal mining to the NGT (National Green Tribunal),” Ranjan Mukherjee, counsel for the Meghalaya government, told IANS.

“The tribunal also asked the union coal and forest and environment ministries to take a call on the guidelines,” he added.

At a hearing held in New Delhi, the NGT’s principal bench headed by tribunal chairperson Justice Swatanter Kumar also directed the coal and forest and environment ministries to take up the matter on a priority basis in consultation with the state’s Chief Secretary P.B.O. Warjri, he said.

Once the central ministries completed the exercise, the draft guidelines would again be sent to the tribunal, he added.

The green court, which continued with its April 17, 2014 interim order banning rat-hole coal mining, allowed transportation of extracted coal at various intervals besides extending the time for payment of royalty on the extracted coal until October 31.

“The NGT today passed a detailed order, and allowed the plea of the state government to extend the date for payment of royalty until October 31. The incessant rainfall had hampered the process of coal transportation in the state,” Mukherjee said.

He said the estimated amount of extracted coal, which is still lying in the open, was around 50 lakh metric tonnes.

In its last order, the tribunal had directed that the coalminers should pay royalty on extracted coal by September 30.

Mukherjee also said that from July 31 until September 28, 2015, the Meghalaya government raised around Rs.243 crore as royalty on the extracted coal besides generating Rs.77 crore towards the environment protection fund during the same period.

From the period November 2014 onwards and until date, the legal counsel said the government has generated around Rs.650 crore as royalty and payment to the environment protection fund.

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