Govt seeks cooperation of traditional institutions and citizens to check illegal coal mining

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Home Minister Lahkmen Rymbui on Wednesday sought the cooperation of traditional institutions and citizens for helping the state government to keep a check on illegal coal mining in the state.

“We need the cooperation of the people including the dorbar shnong as many of the places are located in the interior (of these districts) which makes it very difficult for officers to reach in time…,” Rymbui told reporters.

According to him, it is also the responsibility of each and every citizen to fight against any illegalities in the state.

He however informed that despite a notification issued by the Mining and Geology department to reward people who come forward to provide information on illegal coal mining, nobody has come to report.

 In view of this, the minister said there is a need to strengthen the checking mechanism especially after the Ksan incident which killed over 15 coal miners as well as the January 22 coal mining accident which led to the loss of another 6 coal labourers in the East Jaintia Hills district.

Recalling that a committee headed by the district administration in coordination with the police was already constituted by the state government to look into illegal mining of coal, Rymbui said, “It is time for the government to see how this committee is working and if not, they have to work vigorously.”

“Period raids, if at all they get information, should be done to curb such illegal activities…They have to monitor and they should act immediately against any illegalities otherwise it will be very difficult (to address this problem),” he further asserted.

The minister also informed that the police department has decided to strengthen its manpower in each and every district so that police can address the various issues including illegal coal mining.

He however said due to the shortage of manpower faced by the police organization in different districts, it is not easy to keep a check on illegal activities.

Stating that investigation is still going on into the coal mining accident in East Jaintia Hills district, Rymbui said so far as many as 17 people have been detained for questioning.

“The process of investigation is still on and I cannot divulge more until and unless it is concrete,” he said while adding that it is too early to say whether illegal coal mining was happening at Sorkari.

Whether the mine owner has been arrested, the minister said, “The mine owner has not been caught yet. We know that the landowner is in the name of Lar Bareh and it seems like he is not doing the mining himself so we have to connect the dot because in any investigation you cannot just blame anybody or pick anybody just to satisfy the need of the hour.”