Following a series of visits to inspect the coal mines in the state, Leader of Opposition Mukul Sangma on Thursday accused the NPP-led MDA government of shying away from finding truth relating to the alleged illegal mining and transportation of coal.
“If they are on a denial mode and asking me to prove it then what they are there for, are they not legally, constitutionally duty-bound to protect the interest of the state? Why are they shying away from finding the truth, which is necessary to stop illegalities?” Sangma told reporters.
The former chief minister said that he had gone to East Jaintia Hills and West Jaintia Hills and found out that the quantity of coal as claimed by the state government does not exist.
He said the process of assessment of the coal in the month of June, this year was indicated at 1.41 lakh metric tons.
“On my spot visit, the deputy commissioner and the district mining officer have counted and given in writing as an inspection note that there are only 1,064 truckloads (which carries between 10 to 16 MT)…so you multiply 1,064 by 10 or 16 MT, you have your option, it doesn’t even come to 20,000 MT.
But as per the report of the mining and geology district officer submitted to the DC is 1.41 lakh MT. Why is this discrepancy that means have the coal already illegally transported?” Sangma asked.
He said it is the job of the government to actually verify the matter to protect the interest of the state as we cannot allow the state to be looted.
“What more evidence do they want? They can come again with me and let us visit that place…I can go and give evidence but then one instance is enough to draw the attention of the government. Are they willing or do they want to hide away from the truth?”
Sangma further said failure to protect the interest of the state amounts to allowing illegalities to go with impunity.
“Failure to verify this truth to enable the government to protect the interest of the state also can be interpreted as abetment of crime. It is as simple as that,” he added.
Asked about the transportation of ‘unclaimed coal’, the former chief minister said this word ‘unclaimed coal’ has come up as an offshoot of a well-scripted modus operandi.
“There is a claim that some coal has been dumped somewhere and then the owner is not known and therefore somebody files a complaint before the DC then DC asked for an inquiry and when an inquiry is done then he is asked to indicate the quantity and after that, the officers are asked to file an FIR and after that, they said this is unclaimed coal and there is no owner. Now tell me one thing, how there is unclaimed coal when all the land belongs to somebody,” he said.
“You have seen it in Garo Hills, the landowners have come forward but have they tried to find out? Have they interrogated the landowners? There is no effort as we can see from the government to really find out whether illegalities are really going on or not. That is the biggest question and that is what we have found out.
The moment the investigation is done, the moment the landowners under whose land the consignment is dumped once they are interrogated they will be telling you who are the owners and from where the coal is coming from. This is what I am saying they must have put their brains together to script a new modus operandi to proceed with this unclaim coal and this we have seen in West Jaintia Hills,” he said while demanding the government to come out clean on the 1.41 lakh MT coal.
On the chief minister’s statement that the opposition Congress is confused on the issue of auctioning the 32 lakh MT of already extracted coal, Sangma said, “Opposition is not confused, Dr. Mukul Sangma is not confused at all.”
“Why I say you proceed ahead with the auctioning of the 32 lakh MT of coal as per the order of the Supreme Court because if it is not there then you will know. If it is there you will also know but if you are doing the auctioning in a piecemeal – one lakh mt two lakh mt it will take how many years tell me. The judgment of the Supreme Court was pronounced on July 3, last year and now more than a year, they have not auctioned,” he said.
“They (government) are saying there are many legalities, come on if they can auction the so-called unclaimed coal so fast even during holidays you look at the notification, even during Christmas time when everybody is busy in a festive mood that’s the time and very fast. But in this case, why are they slow,” he alleged.
The leader of the opposition said the government must auction the 32 lakh MT of coal on time and if it is not there, it should verify through a process of law and find out who is responsible for any disappearance of such coal.