Congress party in Meghalaya alleges ‘coal racket’, demands independent inquiry

The Opposition leader said a separate independent inquiry should be set up for each coal-rich district under Jaintia Hills, West Khasi Hills and Garo Hills regions.


(Representational Image: Pixabay)

 

The Congress party has demanded immediate setting up of an independent inquiry to end the coal racket in Meghalaya.

“There must be an immediate independent inquiry to go into the details of the illegalities that are going on in the state specifically for each district as it cannot be (one inquiry) for the whole state,” Leader of Opposition Mukul Sangma said on Tuesday.

Sangma made the demand at the sidelines of an inspection by the team of Congress MLAs to the various corona care centres and hospitals in West Jaintia Hills district.

His statement also came in the wake after five labourers are feared trapped inside an illegal coal mine in East Jaintia Hills, the incident of which had taken place on May 30. 

He reiterated that the separate independent inquiry should be set up for each coal-rich district under Jaintia Hills, West Khasi Hills and Garo Hills regions.

“We will see that it happens, we will see that there is independent inquiry in respect of the illegal coal mining and all those who are perpetrators of this crime do not go scot free,” the former Chief Minister said.

Expressing concern that precious lives have been lost in the East Jaintia Hills coal mine disaster, he said the opposition on a number of occasions has been trying to prevail upon the government and the leadership to crack a whip and stop all illegal mining.

“Unfortunately they have always been in denial mode whether it is inside the House or outside the House, we have raised this issue. Yesterday’s report clearly indicates that illegal coal mining is still going on,” he added.

Stating that there are many illegal activities which are an offshoot of illegal coal mining, he said these include illegal transportation, illegal sale, illegal transaction (which) in the process vitiating the environment and affecting the society and the state.

“This doesn’t augur well for the government, for the people of the state, so we must put an end to this,” he asserted. 

On the other hand, the leader of opposition further alleged that the illegality of this scale cannot happen without the patronage of the people who are in authority.

“These are not mining activities which are done by one spade but it is being done with the use of heavy machinery. So the whole mining activities cannot skip the attention of the people in authority,” he stated.

Stating that Meghalaya is not a very big state and that the government has all wherewithal to stop any illegality, he said, “In fact that is the reason why we have created new districts so that we can have more supervision. We have created new districts in Jaintia Hills region, we created East Jaintia Hills and West Jaintia Hills so that you have more officers, more eyes, more ears, that how you deal – but sad to say now, if the government of the day chose to allow these illegalities to happen who can stop it, only when people decide to stop it, then it will stop. I hope the people of the state will decide once and for all to stop this because illegal coal mining is as bad as robbing the state.”

Further, Sangma also lamented that due to illegal coal mining, the revenue could not be accrued to the government exchequer. This in turn has also affected the functioning of the district councils.

“The money which would have come to the coffers of the state is going somewhere else so it is against the interest of the people and of the state so this must end,” he added.

First Published:June 1, 2021, 10:43 p.m.

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