Following the directions of National Green Tribunal (NGT) earlier, the district administrations of East Jaintia Hills District on Monday once again promulgated prohibitory orders banning rat hole coal mining in the district, officials said.
A district administration official said that the prohibitory order under Section 144 of CrPC was issued also against illegal transportation and dumping of coal in noncompliance with the directions issued by the NGT earlier.
“Action would be taken against transportation of coal without valid challan or documents or permission, license issued by the competent authority to and from the district,” the official said.
The DM’s notification said that violation of the order shall attract penal actions under Section 188 of IPC apart from the other relevant laws.
Environmental activists in Meghalaya and Assam have said that despite the orders and recommendations of the Supreme Court and NGT, banning the indiscriminate and hazardous rat hole coal mining in Meghalaya, the mining continued unlawfully and exported to Bangladesh and other places with the authorities turning a blind eye.
Expressing strong displeasure, a three-member bench of the Meghalaya High Court led by Chief Justice Sanjib Banerjee recently asked the state Chief Secretary to ensure that illegal coal mining activities are stopped at once and a committee free from political interference be set up to monitor the execution of Supreme Court and NGT’s directions and recommendations.
In April 2014, NGT had banned the indiscriminate and hazardous rat hole coal mining in Meghalaya. Many workers got trapped in the illegal and unsafe mines and subsequently died – five in May/June last year but only three bodies were retrieved from the flooded coal mine after hectic efforts for over 27 days in East Jaintia Hills district; in December 2018, in a major tragedy in the same district, 15 migrant miners from Assam died inside in an abandoned coal mine. The 15 miners, whose bodies were never found, had been stuck in the coal mine at a depth of nearly 370 feet after a tunnel was flooded with water from the nearby Lytein river.
Meghalaya’s Jaintia Hills district shares borders with Assam and Bangladesh.