Meghalaya HC Asks Chief Secy, DGP to File Fresh Affidavits on Illegal Coal Mining, Transportation
The Meghalaya HC bench of chief justice Sanjib Banerjee and judges HS Thangkhiew and W Diengdoh stated that the affidavits filed by the DGP “is more of what has been done after the horse has bolted.”
SHILLONG: The Meghalaya high court was not satisfied with the affidavits on measures taken to stop illegal mining and transportation of coal in the state, filed by the state’s chief secretary and DGP, expressing its displeasure on the documents.
The Meghalaya HC bench of chief justice Sanjib Banerjee and judges HS Thangkhiew and W Diengdoh, while hearing a suo moto Public Interest Litigation (PIL) on illegal mining and transportation of coal in the state, stated that the affidavits filed by the DGP “is more of what has been done after the horse has bolted.”
Delivering its order on Thursday, the HC bench ordered both of the state’s civil and police chiefs to file new affidavits within a time period of four weeks. The matter is next slated for hearing on July 3.
In its order, the HC bench said, “Indeed, the affidavit filed by the DGP is more of what has been done after the horse has bolted. What the court required was for the horse to be kept safe and to close the stable door. It does not appear that either the administration or the police has made any endeavour in such regard as the stable doors have been left wide open with both the administration and the police looking the other way.”
It was also stated by the court in the order that, on May 15, the chief secretary and the DGP had been asked by it to file affidavits in connection to the “13th interim report filed by Justice Katakey (retired) and the innumerable instances of flagrant breach of subsisting orders indicated in such report. Neither the chief secretary nor the DGP has dealt with such aspect of the matter.”
Failure by the chief secretary and the DGP to address the issues was not taken kindly by the court. In its fresh order, the court stated, “The instances referred to in Justice Katakey’s 13th interim report must be individually dealt with and both the chief secretary and the DGP will file further affidavits indicating measures taken to ensure that there is no breach of the subsisting orders in future.”
The court also asked that, “In the meantime, the state should also ensure that the previous coal is disposed of as per the original schedule as set by Justice Katakey. Justice Katakey will keep on monitoring the situation and keep up the good work.”
The disposal of previously mined coal post 2014 NGT ban on rat-hole coal mining and transportation of coal is being monitored by the HC. Deployment of 10 companies of CAPFs to check illegal mining had also been sought.
Illegal coal mining in Meghalaya, usually done through rat-hole mining, has claimed the lives of many and not only deprives the state of revenue but also causes damage to the environment. The National Green Tribunal banned all such activities, including transportation of coal, in 2014.