Small carts being used to carry coal from the mines

Saleng Sangma wants NGT to focus on deforestation in Meghalaya

Shillong: Nationalist Congress Party (NCP) state president Saleng Sangma on Tuesday raised questions over the reactions being shown by ministers and locals over illegal coal transportation and mining in Meghalaya. Showing surprise, Sangma even said that the National Green Tribunal (NGT) may have a vested interest in mining.

Sangma’s reaction came amid the ongoing uproar over allegations that home minister James Sangma is involved in illegal coal transportation and earlier MDA ministers were of the opinion that he must step down.

While speaking to the media, Sangma said, “Surprised with how NGT and even ministers are reacting on illegal coal transportation. What is making the people so interested in this issue I am quite surprised. I feel that NGT should concentrate more on deforestation and other sectors. For example, Mawsynram and Cherrapunjee were the wettest place on Earth but right now Mawsynram is one of the driest. And you see the random cutting of trees is happening now and then, it is not only the mining it is affecting, it is the trees which are the lungs of the people.”

Sangma said that the NGT should show more interest in deforestation and the rampant felling of trees taking place. “Why is NGT not intervening? Are they afraid or do they have a vested interest in mining?” questioned Sangma.

When asked if he was against any minister, Sangma said, “I am not against anybody, I am against the system. The system needs to be corrected, disciplined and religiously concentrated and followed by the department and the ministers should show the way to implement it. Names like abode of the clouds or Scotland of the east will become history with what is happening in our state.”

Sangma also said that not only illegal coal transportation is happening but illegal smuggling of drugs, illegal felling of trees is also taking place. Sangma was of the opinion that one should not be stripped of their portfolio but instead, the minister who is being called out should be able to correct their wrongs and be able to be more functional.

Social activists react to reports of ongoing illegal coal transportation

Meanwhile, social activist Agnes Kharshiing highlighted the issue of ongoing illegal coal transportation and how people working in the mines have been injured and are not able to come out and testify. Kharshiing said that labourers working in the mines have no security and are not even protected.

“We have seen and what is being reported the fact that coal transportation is so rampant. And that it cannot just go away without orders from the top. It is unfortunate that the chief minister, he should have taken a stand so that it will be opened. And in fact, we should cooperate and work together with the Lokayukta to find out the reality,” said Kharshiing.

Social activist Hasina Kharbhih expressed that if something on this line is taking place the chief minister of the state will have to take legal action which is under the purview of the law and cannot shy away from the fact that illegal coal transportation is taking place.

“The illegal mining even after 2014 order from NGT continues to happen, and even though there has been directive direction taking into consideration the recent report by the committee, state very clearly on the amount of transportation that has happened illegally and the kind of backdoor corruption that has taken place in the purview of the present government and purview of the ministers who are very much aware what is happening,” said Kharbhih.

She further added that it is something that everybody is aware but nobody has taken stringent action. “So if we look at the illegal coal transportation the present situation that happened with the home minister James Sangma, it came to the public eye and also because of the CBI inquiry that this information emerged into every public discussion, so I would say as a petitioner if something on this line is taking place the chief minister of the state will have to take legal action which is under the purview of the law it cannot shy away from the fact that illegal coal transportation is taking place,” said Kharbhih.

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