SHILLONG, Jul 1: John F Kharshiing, chairman of Grand Council of Chiefs of Meghalaya has written to the state government requesting it to urgently amend the Coal Mines (Nationalisation) Act, 1973.
In the letter to the Chief Minister, Conrad K Sangma and deputy Chief Minister, Prestone Tynsong, Kharshiing said a complicated situation is being faced by many entrepreneurs due to the recent subsequent notice issued to the numerous stone quarry owners and stone crusher operators in Meghalaya due to the absence of a “Mining Lease” as per the Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Act 1957.
He pointed out that the indigenous people of the state should not be misled into applying for a “mining lease” in lieu of a “mining permit’ in their own land.
“The wrong use of vocabulary in an Act or Rule, if not carefully examined will create further legal and constitutional complications on the interpretation of land ownership in Meghalaya,” Kharshiing said.
He also stated that the state government is pursuing with the centre for exempting Meghalaya from the Coal Mines (Nationalisation) Act,1957, but stated that it is a serious matter that in a federal and diverse structure in India, the Central government appears to be not concerned and ignoring an official resolution of the Meghalaya Assembly since 2015, which constitutionally sought Presidential notification under Para 12 A (b) of the Sixth Schedule to the Constitution of India.
“We request that this matter of ignoring a Meghalaya Assembly Resolution by the centre be addressed at the earliest, with the central government and must be taken up with other states of India so that the federal structure of the country is treated with respect,” he said.
Kharshiing also said that this matter should be resolved at the earliest through an all party delegation of MLAs/MDCs?MPs and traditional heads of the state to present the state’s case, before the President of India, the Prime Minister, the Speaker of the Parliament and leaders of all national parties.
Kharshiing however, said that all are in agreement that there should be no compromise in the protection and preservation of the environment and its ecosystem.
He also highlighted the errors and contradiction in The Meghalaya Minor Minerals Concession Rules,2016 including Form A – Application for Mining Lease, which contradicts with the customary land holding system in the state especially within the territorial jurisdiction of the Federation of Khasi States which is in violation of the terms of the Instrument of Accession and Annexed Agreement of August 17, 1948, where the government of India agreed not to make law over land ownership.