Coal Mining in Meghalaya
The Meghalaya government’s push to lift the National Green Tribunal’s ban on coal mining in the State perfectly portrays the conflict between economic development and environmental protection. The ban which came in 2014 was based on a petition by the All Dimasa Students’ Union and the Dima Hasao District Committee, alleging that coal mining in Jaintia Hills of Meghalaya has turned the water of the Kopili River acidic. Moreover, international media reports on rampant illegal rat-hole mining and the use of children to dig up coal forced the authorities to put a ban on it. The ban, however, had its repercussions on the economy of Meghalaya. The State government has claimed that it had incurred a huge loss in terms of revenues and jobs due to the ban. Additionally, HPCL’s Nagaon Paper Mill in Assam, which sourced a major portion of its coal requirement from Meghalaya, too suffered due to the blanket ban.
The Meghalaya government’s pitch to lift the ban is targeted at revenue generation for its coffers and creating job opportunities for its youth. Such agendas also get reflected in the aspirations of the State’s populace.
However, it is a well-established fact that coal mining is not a sustainable exercise. The government and various organizations have time and again spent huge money in rejuvenating areas previously exploited for coal. India is also a signatory of the Paris Agreement and has pledged to reduce one-third of the country’s carbon emission by 2030.
Demand for coal in the country is projected to grow over the next few decades. However, it is high time we looked at non-conventional sources of energy for our requirements. States like Meghalaya should realize their wind, solar and hydropower potential. The people of Meghalaya should also realize that it is the uniqueness of their State’s pristine environment that the world is more attracted to. The ban may soon be lifted but only time will tell whether Chief Minister Conrad Sangma is able to strike a balance between his economic policies and the ecology of his State.
Vasant Kunj, New Delhi.
Renaming of Kahilipara Road
It is agonizing to find that Kahilipara Road in Guwahati, starting from Ganesh Mandir to Lal Ganesh, was renamed recently as Deen Dayal Upadhaya Road by the authorities. There is a big signboard near Ganesh Mandir displaying the new name in English and Assamese.
We are not against anyone as such, but the name of a road, especially within a city or town or village, should be relevant to the local environment. As we understand, Mr Upadhaya did not occupy any important government post nor do we remember him for any significant contribution to the nation.
The renaming is in very bad taste.
Much-hyped Expansion of Ministry
It is said that travelling hopefully is better than to arrive. This is what exactly is seen in the much-hyped expansion of ministry of the Sarbananda Sonowal-led ministry of Assam. BJP, it seems, has turned the expansion of ministry into a farcical exercise. Meanwhile, certain aspirants have started ventilating their ire against the BJP-led State government. Some veteran MLA s seem to be impatient and are seen serving ultimatum to the Sarbananda-led government. Incidentally, BJP might be in the grip of a fear psychosis that once the expansion takes place, there might be even possibility of a rebellion, and to ward off the rebellion, the party refrains from expansion.
But our point is why at all the party makes itself a laughing stock before others. It seems the party with its Big Boss at the Centre fails to maintain the consistency that is required of a national party. Its failure to expand the ministry lowers its image before the people. The State BJP president belittles himself for his commitment from time to time that expansion would take place on so and so date.