Nongstoin: The ruling Meghalaya Democratic Alliance (MDA) is being lauded by many for its role in challenging the National Green Tribunal (NGT) ban on coal mining in Meghalaya.
Meghalaya chief minister Conrad K Sangma, deputy chief minister Prestone Tynsong, tourism minister Metbah Lyngdoh and MLAs from West Khasi Hills were felicitated by Ka Hima Nongstoin Land Owners, Coal Traders’ and Producers’ Association (KHNLOCTPA) on Wednesday for their perseverance in fighting NGT ban.
On July 3, the Supreme Court revoked the NGT ban on coal mining, while declaring tribals as the lawful owners of the extracted coal.
“Through the judgment of the Supreme Court the rights of the tribal have been restored. The judgment has recognised the rights of the tribal which will be remembered for generations to come,” said Sangma on the occasion.
“A lot of people don’t understand the gravity or the intensity of this order. The order goes way beyond coal industry and beyond the mineral rights that we might have. It goes to the whole level of telling the whole nation that our rights are unique, our people are unique and the traditional laws that we have had must be recognised. The rights of the tribal people living in Meghalaya must be recognised,” the CM added.
Lashing out at the previous government for their lack in fighting the NGT ban, Sangma said, “The Opposition tried to mislead and take advantage of the collective effort of MDA and all the stakeholders. It is sad that we had to wait for five long years to settle the matter that has affected a lot of people, who are dependent on coal mining and its subsidiary activities.”
However, Sangma said that the judgment was befitting as it has finally given recognition to the tribal rights over the land, the soil and the sub-soil. Reminding the coal traders and land owners, the CM said that utmost care should be accorded to conserve and preserve the environment, so that land and its resources are conserved for future generation.
“We have to strike a balance between livelihood and the environment. We must ensure that we protect our environment. The land and the resources are the property of the tribal people which also implies that we have to take the responsibility,” he said.
Sangma urged the land owners and miners not to be irresponsible and mine with deep concerns for nature and adhere to strict compliance and follow the laid down rules and procedures.
“The government is determined to ensure that we work closely with all the coal miners and extend necessary support that is required to ensure that the coal mining in the future will take place in a very systematic manner so that we take care of the environment and at the same time earn their livelihood,” Sangma added.
The chief minister informed that taxes and revenue grew by 20% in past one year which is a stark improvement compared to the previous government and we are working hard that our revenue growth reaches 25% in this financial year.