‘Citizen’s Report’ released, calls for complete stop of coal mining

SHILLONG, Jan 13: A group of activists fighting against unregulated coal mining in Meghalaya on Sunday released a “Citizen’s Report”.

This report was released at a gathering in the residence of social activists Agnes Kharshiing who was attacked on November 8 last year after she fought against illegal coal mining and transportation in Meghalaya. Her colleague Amita Sangma was also attacked along with her.

It may be mentioned that on December 1, 2018, the group had submitted a citizens report to the Supreme Court called, “Curse of unregulated coal mining in Meghalaya – Vol 1: How Unregulated & Illegal Coal Mining in Meghalaya is Destroying Environment and Dispossessing Tribal People of their Land and Livelihood”.

This first report examined the claims about livelihood and tribal autonomy vis-à-vis coal mining. It looks at “How and Why Unregulated & Illegal Coal Mining in Meghalaya continued even after the orders of the National Green Tribunal & the Hon’ble Supreme Court of India?”

This current report (Vol. 2) is a continuation of the earlier report.

“We chose to put together these reports in the backdrop of the murderous attack on Kong Agnes Kharshiing and Amita Sangma by the Coal Mafia (coal mine owners that include public representatives, bureaucrats, administration, police and leaders of self-styled non-state social groups and “NGOs” and the total state apathy around this attack,” Angela Rangad who read out the report said.

The Citizen’s Report states that sadly in Meghalaya, there is an increasing capture of the state apparatus by the mining barons and their administrative cohorts. It is up to us the citizens to raise our voices to challenge this dangerous culture of impunity that is taking over our land.

According to the report when on the 17th April 2014, the National Green Tribunal issued its orders banning unregulated and unscientific ‘rat hole’ mining, there was a ray of hope for Meghalaya.

“But through legal maneuvers, administrative and political tricks played on behalf of the mining lobby, the intent and purpose of this historic order has been bent beyond recognition,” the report stated.

The Citizen’s Report also hopes that this report will shine some light on the dark world that unregulated coal mining has wrought in the society and help citizens and judiciary to look for ways to dismantle the structures of illegality which is fast taking over land.

According to the Citizen’s Report, with large number of deaths of coal mine labour, increasing public health crisis, destruction of the ecosystem and everyday criminality in the coal mining area, it is high time that society take a strong position vis-à-vis unregulated coal mining in Meghalaya.

“It is time for protection of the larger common good as against giving relief to the few exploitative coal barons,” the report stated.

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