SHILLONG: The Hynniewtrep Integrated Territorial Organization (HITO), in a statement on Thursday, said it has lodged an FIR against 18 illegal coal-laden trucks and detected more than 50 trucks transporting illegal coal from Jaintia Hills to Assam.
General Secretary of HITO Wanbun N Dkhar, informed in a press meet, that an FIR was filed at the Mawryngkneng Police Station last night with regards to these 18 trucks. However, he said, the police denied the FIR in the morning, stating that the latest notification from the Mining and Geology Department informed that, 'no citizen or NGO can file an FIR against coal transportation in the state'.
Dkhar said,"Last night we detected around 50 illegal trucks carrying coal from Jaintia hills to Guwahati. We lodged an FIR against those 18 trucks. Unfortunately, 12 escaped".
He also informed that the coal-laden trucks have to shell out Rs 80,000-Rs 1 lakh as fees while passing from Mawryngkneng to Byrnihat. When asked who is paid, the HITO leader said that the payment is allegedly paid to the 'high-level' group.
"The Deputy Chief Minister of the State, Prestone Tynsong mentioned that there is no illegal transportation of coal in the state of Meghalaya and also added that if any citizen knows about any illegal transportation of coal, then the existing High Level can come forward" added Dkhar, saying,"This will draw the attention of the government to the existence of a 'high level' hand in the coal business."
The HITO leader informed that the organization will also submit a memorandum to the president of state Bharatiya Janata Party (BJP), Ernest Mawrie, on September 8 to demand an enquiry by the Enforcement Directorate (ED) and Central Bureau of Investigation (CBI) in the state.
"We will continue with the surprise checks if the government fails to reply to their FIR", he added.
The Meghalaya High Court in March this year, had directed the state government to set up a committee "without any political interference" to implement the ban on rat-hole coal mining put in place by the National Green Tribunal (NGT) and the Supreme Court.
The order followed a visit by the three- -judge bench, accompanied by the state chief secretary, to Khliehriat in East Jaintia Hills district, the hub of coal mining in Meghalaya. The court said it saw "tell-tale signs of mining activities".
"For tens of miles, freshly mined coal is dumped on both sides of the road in plain view," the court observed.
The NGT in 2014 had banned rat-hole mining, a risk-laden technique that entails digging narrow vertical tunnels to extract coal, in Meghalaya. However, there have been reports of mining continuing illegally despite the court order.
HITO's statement Thursday has now bolstered these reports.