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Conrad cross swords with predecessor on coal mining ban

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Press Trust of India Shillong
Coal mining ban in Meghalaya has become a major poll issue in the state with both Chief Minister and NPP president Conrad K Sangma and his predecessor Mukul Sangma of the Congress harping on the issue.
Conrad K Sangma Wednesday accused Mukul Sangma of failing to challenge the coal mining ban in the state by the National Green Tribunal (NGT) when he was chief minister.
The ban has not only affected livelihood of the people but also led to financial loss for the state, Conrad, also National People's Party (NPP) president, said while addressing election rallies in South Garo Hills district.
The NGT had imposed a blanket ban on mining and transportation of coal in Meghalaya in 2014, citing unscientific methods and absence of safety measures. Mukul Sangma was the chief minister at that time.
An NPP-led coalition, Meghalaya Democratic Alliance (MDA) which includes the BJP, ousted the Congress government in the state in the assembly election held early last year.
"In 2014, the NGT had banned coal mining in Meghalaya. I ask Mukul Sangma why he had failed to challenge the NGT order in the Supreme Court. In 2018, when the MDA came to power, the government had to start from scratch and now is fighting the case in the Supreme Court," Conrad said.
"We have talked to various stakeholders to resolve the issue for the greater interest of our people," said the chief minister who has just completed one year in office.
Conrad said the then Congress government did not even respond to a query from the Centre in 2015 regarding the exemption of the Mine and Mineral (Development and Regulation) Act from Meghalaya.
Mukul Sangma, now the Congress candidate for Tura Lok Sabha seat, on the other hand, accused the ruling dispensation of cheating the people with sugar-coated talks.
"It is all big talks and no actions. They promised to lift the ban on coal mining within 6 months. But even after a year, people are still struggling with even transportation of coal lifted long ago," Mukul said at a rally in East Garo Hills district.
The Congress leader is facing a tough battle against Agatha K Sangma fielded by the NPP and backed by several regional parties, and Rikman G Momin of the BJP.
The saffron party, despite being an ally of the NPP, is contesting Tura and Shillong, the two Lok Sabha seats of Meghalaya, where polling will be held on April 11.

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First Published: Mar 27 2019 | 10:20 PM IST

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