Deputy Chief Minister Prestone Tynsong on Friday said the government need not constitute an inquiry into the alleged coal trade as its agencies are keeping a close watch by seizing illegally transported coal.
“Why should we constitute an inquiry as the government machinery is in place? The district administration and other agencies of the government are already on the road and when they find trucks trying to carry coal illegally they are seized and provision of law applies which means we have to hand over the seized coal to the court. When we are seizing why we need an inquiry,” Tynsong told reporters.
He was reacting to the allegation made by the Leader of Opposition Mukul Sangma that the state government is neglecting its duty to get to the bottom of the alleged illegal mining and transportation of coal in Meghalaya.
Tynsong also asked the leader of the opposition to table the evidence on the floor of the house.
“Let Dr. Mukul put a detailed presentation in the House, now we are in session from Monday till Thursday you go and tell him,” he said.
On Sangma’s allegation that the word unclaimed coal is part of a well-scripted modus operandi, the deputy chief minister said the unclaimed coal are ones which have been seized by the state authorities and sent to the court for auctioning.
As far as the auctioning of the 32 lakh metric tons of already extracted coal is concerned, Tynsong said a working plan is being prepared by the Coal India Limited jointly with the state government as per the direction of the Supreme Court.
“The working plan has to be submitted to the National Green Tribunal (NGT) for its approval. Series of meetings were held and I am telling you in short now we are in the final stage,” he said.
Admitting that the process has taken a long time, he said, “Otherwise from the state government after the Supreme Court’s ruling last year, we wanted to dispose of the coal the next day itself. Hopefully, within no time from now, NGT will approve it and we will be able to auction the coal.”
On the allegation by the Jaintia Coal Miners & Dealers Association (Youth Wing) into alleged nexus between the coal mafias and the government officials for facilitating illegal transportation of coal in the state, Tynsong said the government has a stringent policy in place.
“If you say that transportation of coal is still going on I said yes, transportation of coal is still on and that coal, where the transportation is taking place till this moment, is the coal where the court has said to auction it.
These were the auctioned coal where movement is taking place till now. It is there. so those people who alleged let them go to the concerned office and find out and check the challan we issued,” he said.
Tynsong also refuted the allegation that challans are being sold for transporting the illegal coal and said challans are being issued based on the indicated quantity of coal and after payment of royalty. “Therefore, it is easy to make an allegation but if you are concerned about that illegality please help us by you go and find out from the office concerned and see when the challan was issued,” he said.
Asked when coal mining will resume in the state, Tynsong said the Supreme Court has allowed the mining of coal but as per laid down criteria.
“You need to get the mining plan for the government of India to issue a mining lease. The Mining and Geology department has already issued SOP on how to apply and get these documents,” he said while informing that workshops were also organized to encourage coal miners to come forward with mining plan so that the government can help to ensure the government of India approves the mining lease.