The mining misfortune has become a nightmare for the Meghalaya government, as the National Green Tribunal yesterday imposed a fine of whopping Rs 100 crore on the State government for its failure to curb illegal coal mining in the state. The Tribunal imposed the fine on the government as a ‘deterrent’ and for its ‘inaction’ to curb illegal mining in the northeastern state.
In a report submitted to the Tribunal by a committee examining the incident, it was stated that majority of the mines in the northeastern state were operating without a lease or license. Also, during the hearing by the Tribunal on the particular incident that took place on 2nd January, the State government admitted that a large number of mines were operating illegally.
Senior advocate of the Tribunal, Raj Panjawani said the amount of the fine has to be deposited with the Central Pollution Control Board within two months. He also said that the bench in its order made it clear that the amount can be recovered from illegal miners and the officials responsible for operating mines illegally.
The Tribunal also considered the report of the three-member committee, headed by retired Justice B P Kakoti of Gauhati High Court, which states that there were around 24,000 mines in Meghalaya and majority of them were operating illegally.
The National Green Tribunal had ordered an interim ban on ‘rat-hole’ coal mining in Meghalaya from April 17, 2014.