SHILLONG, March 16: Chief Minister Dr Mukul Sangma today informed the house that the Meghalaya Mines and Mineral Policy, 2012 has been stalled since it was in conflict with the central laws.
Relying during the Question Hour here today, Dr Sangma said that the Meghalaya Mines and Mineral Policy, 2012 was in conflict with the Mines and Mineral Development and Regulation (MMDR) Act, 1957 and Coal Mines tiolization Act 1973.
“While implementing the Meghalaya Mines and Mineral Policy, 2012 notified on 5th November, 2012 it has come to the notice that customary laws, rights and practices were coming in conflict with the provisions of Central laws governing mines and minerals,” Dr Sangma informed the House.
Dr Sangma also told the House that the tiol Green Tribul (NGT) ha sput on hold all mining activities pending operatiolising of a scheme to meet the statutory requirements of central laws, environment protection and safety and that the state government has taken up the matter with the centre.
Later, replying to a similar question put by UDP legislator from Shillong West Paul Lyngdoh, Dr Sangma informed the house that as per the latest trend of revenue collections of major revenue earning departments, the revenue loss from the NGT ban on coal mining in the state from the fincial year 2014-2015 is worked out to be around Rs 600 crore.
The Chief Minister also said that the state government has drawn a contingency plan like developing a framework for making mining a more safe and scientific activity to generate a sustaible source of revenue.
“On a long term basis measures are being worked out for creating altertive sustaible sources of revenue,” Dr Sangma informed the house.
The Chief Minister also said that immediate measures have been taken like, implementation of 20 percent non plan budgetary cut, imposition of restriction of non plan expenditures, revision of the VAT for certain items from 13.5 to 14.5 percent, tax on luxuries, revision of excise slabs, introduction of advolarem tax on IMFL and introduction of efficient revenue realisation mechanism.
“In the implementation of the aforesaid the Meghalaya Mines and Minerals Policy, 2012, many issues have cropped up for major minerals like coal and lignite etc. for which the State Government has taken up the matter with Government of India at the highest level,” Dr Sangma said.
The Chief Minister also said that since the coal seams in Meghalaya are by and large thin and therefore, the operation was considered uneconomic the coal mining operation was left to the local tribal miners to mine in small-scale, cottage industry type mining.
He informed the house that coal mining is carried out largely by private operators for commercial purposes and through manual operations.
“The tribal land owners argued and claimed that since land belongs to people or community, therefore, the minerals underneath also belong to the land owners and not to the state which is arising from the Sixth Scheduled Provision of the Constitution,” Dr Sangma said.
According to Dr Sangma, the NGT while banning coal mining and its transportation in the state emphasised upon the state government the need to come forward with an appropriate scheme and statutory rules in respect of coal mining.
“The Hon’ble Tribul in the Order dated 09.06.2014 has directed the State of Meghalaya to take up the matter with the Secretary, MoEF and the Secretary, Ministry of Coal, Government of India and filize the coal mining plan in the State of Meghalaya, the law which ought to have been complied with before carrying on the mining activity and the manner in which the mining activity, if at all, could be permitted in the state of Meghalaya,” Dr Sangma said. He also informed that the state government have submitted proposal for the Mining Plan to the Secretary, Government ofIndia, Ministry of Coal and to the Secretary, Government of India, Ministry of Environment and Forests.