‘Non-verified coal exported to Bangladesh’
SHILLONG: The meeting of the National Green Tribunal (NGT) committee chaired by retired Judge BP Katakey on Friday expressed surprise over the stand taken by the Customs officials that they are not required to check coal consignments exported to Bangladesh.
“Customs officials told the committee that under the guidelines issued to them it is not required to verify whether the trucks carrying coal has the necessary permits from the government of Meghalaya, which to my mind is very astounding,” retired justice Katakey said.
He said that the submission made by the Customs officials is not acceptable because it is a known fact that coal mining activity in Meghalaya has been stopped by the National Green Tribunal (NGT) from 2014.
The NGT committee chairman said the officials were duty-bound to check everything that goes across the border to Bangladesh.
“Whether it is legally mined coal or not; otherwise tomorrow illegal activity may be allowed to be done in the border and this is not acceptable,” retired Justice Katakey said.
He also said that earlier, the NGT committee had directed the Meghalaya government to make an enquiry to find out the persons involved or why is there discrepancies.
The NGT committee added that the Customs officials informed him that they are on the job and they will inform him by the next meeting slated for November 21.
Meanwhile, Katakey also informed that the committee will recommend the NGT to increase the compensation to the next of kin of the 15 miners who were trapped on December 13, 2018 in an illegal coal mine at Ksan in East Jaintia Hills district of the State.
According to him, the families have got Rs 3 lakh each but the amount is not enough. He informed that the Meghalaya government had given Rs 1 lakh compensation, while Rs 2 lakh was given from the Prime Minister’s Relief Fund.
Meanwhile, on the mine tragedy in Garo Hills where 18 labourers died some years back, the NGT Chairman said that as per the committee’s direction, Rs 1 lakh each has already been sanctioned by the government but that has not yet been disbursed to the persons concerned because the Deputy Commissioner of the district found it difficult to do that since all the persons are from Assam.
“We have asked the government to do the verification through the Deputy Commissioners of those respective districts in Assam. Find out the injured person, pay him and also the next of kin of the persons who died because there may be claims from more than one person,” retired Justice Katakey said.
“We will also make recommendation for payment of additional amount to the victims in Garo Hills too. But release of money has to be after verification,” the NGT Chairman added.