SHILLONG; Meghalaya Chief Minister Conrad Sangma on Wednesday said that the Supreme Court has restored the rights of the tribals over their lands.
Replying to a question asked by Independent legislator, Syntar Klas Sunn during Question Hour, the Chief Minister said that the Supreme Court order dated July 3 this year held that in the event mining operations are undertaken by the tribals or other owners of hills districts of Meghalaya in accordance with mining lease obtained from the State Government as per the Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Act, 1957 and Mineral Concession Rules, 1960, the ban order of the National Green Tribunal dated April 17, 2014 shall not come in the way of carrying mining operations.
He also told the House that coal mining shall be allowed in the state subject to compliance of provisions of Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Act, 1957, the Mines Act, 1952, Coal Mines Regulation, 2017 and the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986.
To another query by Sunn on which agency will approve the mining plan, the Chief Minister informed that the landowners will have to prepare mining plan and hire Recognised Qualified Persons, which are recognized by the Ministry of Coal and based on this apply to the state government and it will send to the Coal Ministry and a committee will approve it and send it back to the state.
Conrad also informed that there are 86 such Recognised Qualified Persons.
Replying to a supplementary question about Rat Hole mines in the State, through which the tribals have been carrying out mining, the Chief Minister added that several technology are now available in which mining could be undertaken in such mines safely and environmentally-friendly manner.
He said that several machines and robots are now available through which mining in Rat-hole mines or Tunnel mines can be carried out, which is being undertaken in different parts of the world.
Meanwhile, leader of Opposition from the Congress Dr Mukul Sangma wanted know the status of the Mines and Minerals Policy 2012.
The Chief Minister informed that the policy is still applicable by certain provisions will have to be changed.