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NGT refuses to revoke ban on Meghalaya rat-hole mining

IANS  |  Shillong 

The National Green Tribunal (NGT) Thursday did not revoke its interim ban on rat-hole coal mining in Meghalaya, but extended the validity of royalty payment and transportation of extracted coal kept in the open.

The tribunal's special circuit bench, eastern zone, comprising of Justice U.D. Salvi and expert member Ranjan Chatterjee also directed the Meghalaya government to fasten up the process of formulating its scientific mining plan.

The green court also constituted five local commissioners to inspect the mining sites and weigh-bridges to ascertain if there is any violation of the tribunal's order in transportation and illegal mining of coal in the state.

"The tribunal has refused to lift its April 17 interim order banning coal mining in the state but extended the validity of royalty payment and transportation of extracted coal kept in the open till Feb 11," Ranjan Mukherjee, counsel of the Meghalaya government, told journalists.

He added that the tribunal also directed the coal mine owners and dealers to pay the royalty on the extracted coal at any nationalised bank through the Real Time Gross Settlement (RTGS) system within 14 days' period.

Mukherjee said that the tribunal also directed the Meghalaya government to submit its replies along with the report of experiment conducted by Directorate of Mineral Resources November 2014 on the treatment of effluents discharged from the mining areas within two weeks time.

In its affidavit submitted to the tribunal, the state government said it has collected over Rs.77.25 crore as royalty from 11,02,950 metric tonnes of extracted coal which has exported outside the state.

Earlier, the NGT committee indicated that there are around 6.3 million tonnes of extracted coal whose total value is Rs.3,078 crore, and added that the royalty payable to the state government is Rs.400 crore.

Meanwhile, the tribunal has issued a bailable arrest warrant against four witnesses who are residents of Assam's Dhubri district in connection with the alleged death of 15 coal miners inside the coal pit July 6, 2012, in South Garo Hills district.

It directed the district police chief of Dhubri to bring the four witnesses before court at the next hearing in connection with the death of 15 people in the coal mine.

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First Published: Thu, January 29 2015. 22:52 IST