Shillong: Mining leases for three coal blocks were granted in Meghalaya’s East Jaintia Hills by the Union Coal Ministry in a major boost for the sector in the state after a ban was imposed by the Nation Green Tribunal (NGT) in 2014, officials said on Friday.
The mining leases were granted in the name of Labour Lyngdoh, a resident of Rymbai village, and Dapmain Shylla of Byndihati village, according to state Mining and Geology officials.
Labour and Dapmain are associates of coal barons Nehlang Lyngdoh and Thomas Nongtdu, they said.
In a statement, Labour Lyngdoh and Dapmain Shylla hailed Chief Minister Conrad K Sangma for fulfilling the electoral promise and expressed their gratitude to Prime Minister Narendra Modi and Union Coal Minister Pralhad Joshi.
“The works for preparation of the Mining Plan will start as soon as possible and we hope by the early part of 2022 or by March 2022 mines opening should take place and coal production will once again start from Jaintia Hills in these three blocks,” the statement said.
“This time we are lucky to have a young, dynamic and farsighted Chief Minister Conrad Sangma Ji for working very hard in lifting the ban, and today is a historic day for the people of Jaintia Hills,” it added.
The NGT ban on coal mining in Meghalaya has displaced thousands of families dependent on the sector, the statement said.
The Supreme Court had in July 2019 lifted the ban imposed by the NGT after marathon hearings.
The SC had in its order mentioned that in Meghalaya, the tribal people who are the local residents are the owners of their land and also the minerals below their land.
It had said that if coal mining is done under the Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Act and the Mineral Concession Rules 1960, the ban imposed by the NGT will not be applicable.
The Ministry of Coal had on May 6 allowed the start of mining in Meghalaya by approving five coal mining applications submitted by the state government.
The approval was given after two months of framing of the Standard Operation Procedure (SOP) for Coal Mining in Meghalaya, 2021 by the state government.
The Ministry of Coal finally granted leases to two of the five applicants, officials said.
Several miners have been killed after getting trapped in illegal rat-hole coal mines in the state over the years.
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