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SC refuses to allow transportation of extracted coal in Meghalaya

The Supreme Court Tuesday refused to allow miners to transport extracted coal lying at various sites in Meghalaya.

A bench of Justices A K Sikri, Abdul Nazeer and M R Shah refused to grant permission to the miners.

Various Interlocutory Applications (IAs) have been filed for transportation of the coal already mined, it said.

The Bench said: “Senior counsel Shekhar Naphade, appearing for the State of Meghalaya, has stated at the Bar that the State Government has constituted a Committee in this behalf, for the entire State, to study various aspects of this matter and the Government of Meghalaya would be in a position to file the response after receiving the report from the said Committee.

“He also submits that this exercise may take one month. State of Meghalaya, in these circumstances, file its response within four weeks from today. The applicants can make their representation before the said Committee in writing.”

In a lighter vain, it added: “In respect of your IA, we are saying jaiye (go).”

The apex court is seized of a plea by Lber Laloo, who has filed a petition before the Supreme Court for lifting the ban on coal mining.

The bench had earlier issued notice to the Meghalaya government, the Centre and others seeking their response on various issues connected with coal mining in the state.

The court had said the incident, in which 15 miners got trapped in a rat-hole mine in East Jaintia Hills district, shows that illegal mining continues unabated despite the ban and the state may not be supporting it but has failed to contain illegal mining.

The top court was hearing pleas filed by several coal miners seeking permission to transport extracted coal which was lying unattended at various places in the state.

A report of the three-member committee, headed by retired Justice B P Kakoti of Gauhati High Court, had stated that there were around 24,000 mines in Meghalaya and majority of them were operating illegally.

It had also said not only were there no licences or leases, but also no environmental clearance for operation of majority of the coal mines.

The National Green Tribunal had constituted the committee in August 2018 to supervise and look into the issue of environmental restoration plan and other connected matters in Meghalaya.

The committee was constituted during the hearing of the petition which had sought a ban on coal mining in Meghalaya. It had also taken into account some reports of the state pollution control board.

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