SHILLONG: The report of the Comptroller and Auditor General (CAG) of India for the year ended March 31, 2018 has revealed that in respect of coal mining, the Mining Department has not granted any licence for mining of coal.
“Thus the coal mining in the State was illegal during the audit coverage period of 2013-14 to 2017-18 though the department was collecting royalty and Meghalaya Environment Protection and Restoration Fund (MEPRF) on illegally extracted coal,” the CAG report stated.
The major audit findings are – the department failed take any action against the cement companies for non-payment of royalty and cess on limestone consumed. The arrears of revenue stood at Rs 318.62 crore as on March 2018.
The findings of the report also suggests that the Department irregularly allowed the lessees to carry out mining activities without obtaining mandatory environmental clearance, forest clearance, wild life clearance and non renewal of NOCs from Meghalaya Pollution Control Board.
The report also revealed that as per record the quantity of coal extracted and lying on the surface as on April 17, 2014 was assessed as 94.04 lakh metric ton. In view of the last six years trends of coal production in Meghalaya (around 50-70 lakh metric ton per annum), the coal stock of 94.04 lakh metric ton at any particular date was on higher side.
According to the CAG report in order to penalise the miners who has made false/over declarations of coal stock, the National Green Tribunal (NGT) ordered that the royalty was to be realised from the miners on declared/assessed quantity, whichever was higher, but transportation was to be limited to assessed quantity.
“The Department failed to comply with the NGT order, and allowed transportation on coal without collecting royalty amounting to Rs 313.75 crore on such over-declarations,” the CAG report stated.
The CAG report also stated that systemic failure of the officials posted at the check-gates in preventing illegal transportation of coal out of state has resulted in loss of revenue amounting to at least Rs 296.82 crore during the period 2013-14 to 2017-18.
“It allowed transportation of at least 31.42 lakh metric ton unaccounted coal during the period from November 2014 to May 2018 in violation of NGT order.
“Vigilance squad constituted to carry out enforcement at check-gates remained on paper only,” the CAG report stated.