Shillong: A total of 45,000 tons of illegally-mined coal was seized in Meghalaya’s East Jaintia Hills district after the high court pulled up the state government for its failure to check illegal mining, officials said on Friday.

The seizures were made over the last three weeks, they said.

“Over 50,000 tons of coal was seized during the last three weeks. Of this, 45,000 tons was found to be illegal, while legal papers were available for 5,000 tons of coal,” a senior official at the Directorate of Mineral Resources told PTI.

A report is being prepared and it will be submitted to the district court for auction, he said.

The action of the district administration came as the high court pulled up the state government over rampant illegal coal mining in the district.

On March 7, the full bench of the high court observed that such activities could not be carried out without the possible connivance of the local administration.

The court made the observation after Chief Justice Sanjib Banerjee, along with justices HS Thangkhiew and W Diengdoh had visited Khliehriat and nearby areas, accompanied by Chief Secretary RV Suchiang.

“It was evident even while travelling along the highways that fresh coal had been deposited in mounds on both sides of the road spanning tens of kilometers. The coal looked to be obviously freshly mined as it was shiny black,” the court had said while hearing a suo motu petition.

In a report filed on April 1, the chief secretary had told the court that more than 3,500 trucks were seized for violating the NGT order, banning the transportation of coal.

On this, the court had said that there “appears” to be that some action was taken, but criticised the chief secretary for failing to take action against government officials who “looked the other way” and “actively aided” illegal coal mining in the state.

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