In a relief to coal mine owners in Meghalaya, the National Green Tribunal today extended the time for payment of royalty of already extracted coal in the state by a month after the state government said heavy rains had hampered the transport of coal.
A bench headed by NGT Chairperson Justice Swatanter Kumar also directed the Ministry of coal and Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) to examine the draft guidelines on mining submitted by Meghalaya government expeditiously.
The green panel passed the order to extend the time of royalty payment till October 31 after the counsel for Meghalaya government sought the extension saying incessant rains have hampered the coal transportation process.
Passing a slew of directions, the Tribunal had earlier allowed transportation of coal strictly in accordance with the guidelines prepared by the committee under Additional Chief Secretary K S Kropha and orders of the tribunal.
It had last year ordered coal miners and transporters of Meghalaya to pay about Rs 400 crore royalty to the state government as per Mines Development and Regulation Act, 1957, before transporting the 6.3 million tonnes of extracted coal lying in depots across the state.
The NGT also ordered the state government to collect 10 per cent of the said market value of the coal per metric tonne from each person in addition to the royalty payable to it.
During the hearing, advocate Ranjan Mukherjeea, appearing for Meghalaya, submitted the draft guidelines for coal mining activity in the state and told the bench that there cannot be a general mining policy for all the mines but it should rather be mine-specific.
“The government of Meghalaya, Department of mining and Geology, Shillong has formulated the draft guidelines for coal mining activity in the state. The draft guidelines prepared by Department of Mining and Geology, Shillong was placed before the Expert Group headed by the Chief Secretary, Meghalaya.
“After receiving the inputs from the various members of the Expert Group, the draft guidelines has been approved and cleared by the Expert Group in the 4th meeting on September 17. The guidelines have been submitted to the Ministry of Coal and MoEF,” Mukherjeea said.
The green bench has prohibited mining in the entire state of Meghalaya but allowed transportation of extracted coal kept in the open with due “checks and balances”.
( Source – PTI )