SHILLONG: The Opposition Congress on Thursday welcomed the ruling of the Supreme Court on coal mining in the State even as it stated that this judgment will ensure that the “priority and focus of the present government of allowing illegalities in respect of coal mines will be completely brought under control.”
Welcoming the judgment of the Supreme Court, former Chief Minister and Opposition leader, Dr Mukul Sangma is of the view that the judgment of the apex court was in the best interest of the people and the State.
Sangma said that this judgment has come due to the proactive efforts of various organizations and individuals who had filed petitions before the apex court to challenge the ruling of the NGT to ban coal mining in the State.
“There are a number of stakeholders who felt aggrieved and wanted to ensure that their rights of the land and the minerals should be restored. Organisations like Hima Nongstoin Land Owners, Coal Traders and Producers Association and the State Coordination Committee of Coal Traders, Minerals and Dealers Forum had felt it necessary to knock the door of the judiciary, particularly the apex court, to resolve the issue of ban on coal mining in the State by the NGT,” he said.
The former Chief Minister said that the stakeholders and the various organizations had approached the Supreme Court in view of the fact that there has been an apprehension that the State Government’s efforts to impress upon the Centre to restore the rights of the indigenous tribals might not yield positive results.
“But I am happy to see that the Supreme Court understands the overall traditional laws and customary practices in relationship to the ownership over land and minerals. The Supreme Court has at least been able to understand on the whole back ground of tribal rights. I want to congratulate all the stakeholders who had filed the petition before the apex court which has ultimately led to this judgment of restoring the rights of the tribal people of the State,” he said.
Meanwhile, he said that the other part which has been missed out was the indication of the Ministry of Coal that the application of the relevant sections of the Coal Mines Nationalization Act including MMDR Act should not be made applicable to Meghalaya in respect of coal.
He further said that despite this kind of development and endeavour in the preceding years, the government of the day has missed out on the important views of the Ministry of Coal. “In the judgment of the Supreme Court, the provision of MMDR Act will still apply in respect to the coal mining activities in the State,” the Opposition leader said.
In connection with the Rs 100 crore penalty by NGT, Dr Mukul said that the apex court has upheld the penalty imposed by the NGT to the Meghalaya Government and the only difference is that the source of money will be taken from the funds which has been awarded to the Meghalaya Environment Protection and Restoration Funds.