New Delhi: The Supreme Court of India has given a green light for mining operations in Meghalaya, subject to strict compliance of the regulatory framework. Meanwhile, the court has also imposed a fine of Rs 100 crore on the state for failing to curb illegal mining on Wednesday.
On contention by the state government, the fine will be paid from the Meghalaya Environment Protection and Restoration Fund (MEPRF) which was created for collecting fines and penalties from persons engaged in illegal mining.
A press release by chief minister Conrad K Sangma’s office said that operational coal mining has now been allowed in the state under the relevant statutory framework of the Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Act, 1957 (MMDR) and the Mineral Concession Rules, 1960.
Further, the apex court held the tribals as the lawful owners of the extracted coal. As a one-time measure, the SC has directed Coal India Ltd to auction off all the coal which is already extracted, and ordered that the proceeds of the auction be remitted to the state government who in turn shall remit the same to the lawful owners of the coal — the tribal miners.
The judgment has opened up new avenues for scientific mining in the state as now, mining in tribal lands shall be permitted subject to requisite permissions from the owner of the land, and with approved mining plan.
The communiqué said that SC has been directed the state to continue to take action against illegal miners under relevant provision of MMDR Act.
Illegal rat hole coal mine in Meghalaya’s East Jaintia Hills district had claimed the lives 15 miners who got trapped on December 13 last year.