Coal miners from East Jaintia Hills on Friday felicitated chief minister Conrad K Sangma in recognition of the state government’s persistent and determined efforts towards initiating scientific mining in Meghalaya.
Terming it as a historic achievement, they said that resuming coal mining in the state will provide sustainable livelihood opportunities to the citizens and revenue to the state’s exchequer.
The felicitation programme was held at Khliehriat, the district headquarter of East Jaintia Hills.
Speaking on the occasion, chief minister Conrad K Sangma said, ““Our government has been working tirelessly to resume mining in the state and with this long efforts, Scientific Mining sees light, and Meghalaya will witness a transformation in the mining sector. It was the hardship that the people faced because of the ban and that motivated us to work tirelessly to ensure that the ban is lifted. Initiation of scientific mining will help people of Meghalaya reap the benefits of our mineral resources. Scientific mining will not only ensure minimal environmental impact and sustainable extraction but also provide gainful employment to thousands of locals from Meghalaya. The economic flow and the impact on the state’s GDP will be very prominent in the years to come.”
Sangma also assured that more miners will get licenses going forward. The Mining department will facilitate various programmes for the people, so that other miners also get mining leases.
In a significant step towards initiating scientific coal mining, the Ministry of Coal last month had provided approval for mining lease to four applicants out of the 17 prospecting license applicants.
Coal Mining is set to resume in the state of Meghalaya after nine years. The commencement of scientific mining will be landmark in the history of Meghalaya, as it ensures minimal environmental impact through sustainable and legally compliant extraction procedure.
The National Green Tribunal in April 2014 imposed a blanket ban on coal mining and transportation of coal in Meghalaya causing a massive blow to the revenue of the state. With this verdict, the mining industry suffered a negative growth according to GSDP and it came as a big blow to Meghalaya’s ambitions of achieving its revenue collection targets. The effect this NGT ban had on the local economy was devastating. Locals were struggling to make their ends meet and they still face the consequences of the ban.
July 2019 witnessed a brave and courageous move, the state government under the helmsmanship of Conrad K Sangma challenged the NGT order following which the Supreme Court upheld the rights of tribal people over the natural resources in their land including coal. The Supreme Court opined that private as well as community landowners have both surface rights and subsurface rights, and minerals are owned by private and community landowners.