Shillong, Oct 7 :
The National Green Tribunal Tuesday upheld its ban on coal mining in Meghalaya, but relaxed the guidelines for transportation of 6.3 million tonnes of extracted coal by paying royalty in three equal instalments.
The green court passed the order at the Meghalaya High Court with the tribunal’s special circuit bench, eastern zone, comprising chairperson Justice (retd.) Swatanter Kumar, judicial member U.D. Salvi and two expert members – Devendra Kumar Agrawal and P.C. Mishra – conducting a hearing on issues relating to coal mining in the state.
Justice Swatanter Kumar said: “The royalty should be paid on whichever assessed/declared extracted coal is higher and that the royalty can be paid in three equal instalments, within 45 days from the date of lifting of coal for transportation, since it has been pleaded that it was difficult to pay the royalty at one go.”
The tribunal directed the government to strictly follow guidelines of the NGT’s re-constituted committee headed by Meghalaya Additional Chief Secretary K.S. Kropha to set up 10 check posts, to operate in accordance with the earlier NGT order.
“… no vehicle transporting coal would be allowed to exit the state without passing through online weighing. Due records of transported coal should be maintained and same should be produced to the committee as and when directed,” the tribunal said.
There are 6.3 million tonnes of extracted coal in the state valued Rs.3,078 crore. The royalty payable to the state government is about Rs.400 crore.
The tribunal said: “There should be pollution-free mining to protect human beings and the environment, to keep flora and fauna intact, and there should be no further deterioration of water bodies.”