SHILLONG, Jan 21: Meghalaya Chief Minister, Conrad K Sangma on Monday said that the problem of coal mining in Meghalaya is multi-layered.
“It’s not just about getting exemption from MMDR act and other provisions. There are issues of DGMS (DG Mining Safety). There are issues that need to be worked out. It is a process that will require different agencies to come in but things will start moving once we get a clear picture on the structure on how we would move forward,” Conrad said.
According to the Chief Minister, the structure requires to get the exemption from the MMDR Act and certain provisions in it which would allow the state to structure in such a manner that would allow people to continue with the mining.
“But then only once that structure is in place, then the aspect whether DGMS will accept the safety norm and measures which are proposed will come in,” he said.
On the issue of the mining plan, Conrad said that it has been submitted multiple times to the Centre.
“After submission, there were queries from coal ministry regarding certain issues. Once those issues came up, the government engaged CMPDIL which is the agency of the government of India who are expert in these aspects. And those queries have been replied to which were not replied to for a long time,” the Chief Minister said.
He however, said that there was no question of mining if DGMS does not accept the mining plan and do not approve the safety measures that are there.
“Therefore, we are very clear that we want to ensure that the livelihood of the people is considered. At the same time, all aspects – mining plan, safety of miners, norms being laid down by GOI and which are standard in the country must be followed,” Conrad said.
Meanwhile, on the issue of the Letter of Ministry of Coal dated August 10, 2015, wherein the Ministry of Coal has given its consent in making the Central Acts like the MMRD Act 1957 as well as Coal Mines Nationalisation Act 1973 non applicable in the state, the Chief Minister targeted the previous government saying “sadly there was no movement from government of Meghalaya on that letter.”
Praising his government, the Chief Minister said that in fact after doing a lot of research and its legal team working on it and going through number of cases and files, it managed to get this information.
“I guess if this has been acted earlier the fact that the consent was given I think we would have got results earlier also I think there may be lack of interest earlier,” Conrad said.
He said that after seeing the Ministry of Coal letter, the government immediately went to the home ministry and informed that this consent has been given and requested it to act on a time bound manner to be able to resolve this issue at the earliest.
Moreover, commenting on the rescue operation currently going on at Ksan area in the state’s East Jaintia Hills district, the Chief Minister said that his government intends to review it.
Conrad stated that though the government intends to at least not give up easily but seeing the exercise is not going to working in a very positive manner and the kind of results is not encouraging it will have to sit and review this whole thing once again.
“It will be appropriate to call all the field officers whether it is from the Navy, NDRF, Odisha, Coal India Limited – all of them I need to call them once more take their view and then take a final call,” he said.
The Chief Minister also stated that when situation arose, agencies were not prepared for a situation like that and NDRF and state government and all agencies are trying their level best putting 100 percent to rescue the people or retrieve their bodies.
According to Conrad, it has been a massive logistical challenge for the agencies and multiple agencies are enaged in the operation but are not even getting anywhere even an inch closer to getting any kind of positive results.