Conrad urges balance between protecting environment and coal mining

SHILLONG, Apr 17: Meghalaya Chief Minister, Conrad K Sangma on Tuesday told the Meghalaya Assembly that the ban on coal mining by the NGT has impacted the economy of the state as well as the lives of those dependants on this activity even as he urged for striking a balance between economics and ecology.

Making a statement in the Meghalaya Assembly, on an earlier resolution passed by the House in 2015 to invoke para 12 A (b) of the Sixth Schedule to the Constitution to exempt the state from the provisions of Central laws on mining, Conrad urged stakeholders involved in coal mining to ensure that the environment is protectedfrom the ill effects of their activities.

“There is a huge impact on the economy as a whole. But there is also concern about the environment. We have to strike a balance between economy and ecology,” the Chief Minister said.

He also pointed out that due to rampant coal mining in the past rivers have been contaminated and also there has been no land reclamation.

Conrad also said that even though with increase economic activity the environment will get affected but it should be ensured that impact should be minimal.

He also said that it was the responsibility of all – legislators, officials and mine owners to be responsible towards the environment.

“For the mine owners it is their bread and butter but we can’t compromise on the safety of the miners and the environment,” Conrad said.

Earlier, the Chief Minister said that due to the ban on coal mining by the NGT since April 17, 2014, the government has been losing royalty on the mineral.
“From the tune of around Rs 700 crore annually the royalty on coal drop drastically,” he said.

He also informed the House that after the NGT ban on coal mining many directly or indirectly lost their jobs.

The Chief Minister said that the labourers who worked in the mines, truck drivers ferrying coal and people maintaining accounts lost their jobs.

“There was huge loss in the industry which depended on coal, like the paper mills of Silchar (Assam) and cement plants which depended on coal to run their power captive plants,” Conrad said.