NGT upholds ban on coal mining in Meghalaya, allows lifting of stock after paying royalty

NGT upholds ban on coal mining in Meghalaya, allows lifting of stock after paying royalty

The National Green Tribunal has upheld its ban on coal mining in Meghalaya, but allowed the 6.3 million tonnes of extracted coal to be lifted after paying royalty to the state government.

The NGT today ordered coal miners and transporters of Meghalaya to pay about Rs400 crore as royalty to the state government as per Mines Development and Regulation Act, 1957, before transporting the 6.3 million tonnes of extracted coal piled up across the state.

An expert committee has assessed the 6.3 million tonnes of extracted coal to be worth Rs3,078 crore.

The NGT, however, extended the 14-day period it had granted for paying the royalty in its 1 September order to 45 days, and allowed it to be paid in three equal installments.

The green court passed the order at the Meghalaya High Court with the tribunal's special circuit bench, eastern zone, comprising chairperson Justice (retd) Swatanter Kumar, judicial member UD Salvi and two expert members - Devendra Kumar Agrawal and PC Mishra - conducting a hearing on issues relating to coal mining in the state.

"The royalty should be paid on whichever assessed/declared extracted coal is higher and that the royalty can be paid in three equal instalments, within 45 days from the date of lifting of coal for transportation, since it has been pleaded that it was difficult to pay the royalty at one go,'' Justice Swatanter Kumar said.

The tribunal directed the government to strictly follow guidelines of the NGT's re-constituted committee headed by Meghalaya additional chief secretary KS Kropha to set up 10 check posts, to operate in accordance with the earlier NGT order.

"... no vehicle transporting coal would be allowed to exit the state without passing through online weighing. Due records of transported coal should be maintained and same should be produced to the committee as and when directed," the tribunal said.

The tribunal said: "There should be pollution-free mining to protect human beings and the environment, to keep flora and fauna intact, and there should be no further deterioration of water bodies."

The NGT also issued notices to Meghalaya  government, the state pollution control board and the city municipal board seeking a report on the pollution of Umkhrah and Umshyrpi rivers passing through the city after admitting a petition filed by a city based NGO.