NGT refuses to revoke Meghalaya rat-hole mining ban

Shillong, The National Green Tribunal Monday did not revoke its interim order banning rat-hole coal mining in Meghalaya, but allowed transportation of extracted coal kept in the open.

The tribunal's special circuit bench, eastern zone, comprising chairperson Justice (retd) Swatanter Kumar and expert member Ranjan Chatterjee also directed the Meghalaya government to seal all coal mines across the state.

Moreover, the green court also constituted a six-member committee to prepare the inventory of the extracted coal and submit its report within a week from Monday.

"The tribunal has refused the plea to lift its April 17 interim order banning coal mining in the state but allowed transportation of extracted coal," Ranjan Mukherjee, the legal counsel of the Meghalaya government, told journalists.

About 3.4 million metric tonnes of extracted coal is lying in the open. But coal miners' associations claim the figure is about nine million metric tonnes, he said.

"This committee will work out the modalities related to transportation of extracted coal," Mukherjee said.

He added the autonomous district council and the Meghalaya government will distribute the royalty recovered. This amount would be spent on environmental protection in the mining areas.

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