SHILLONG, Aug 7: Meghalaya Chief Minister Conrad K. Sangma, on Wednesday congratulated, all the stakeholders, organisations, especially the Hima Nongstoin Land owners, Coal Traders and Producers Association, the legal teams, and all the people who played a critical role in ensuring the positive outcome of the historic judgment, which has reinstate rights of land to its owners.
“Through the judgment of the Hon’ble Supreme Court the rights of the tribal has been restored. The judgment has recognised the rights of the tribal which will be remembered for generations to come,” Conrad exhorted.
On July 3, the Supreme Court revoked the NGT ban on coal mining.
“A lot of people don’t understand the gravity or the intensity of this order. The order goes way beyond coal industry or it goes beyond the mineral rights that we might have. It goes to the whole level of telling the whole nation that our rights are unique, our people are unique and the traditional laws that we’ve had must be recognised. The rights of the tribal people living in Meghalaya must be recognised,” the chief minister stated.
Castigating the previous government for doing very little to challenge the NGT ban, the Chief Minister said, “The Opposition tried to mislead and take advantage of the collective effort of MDA and all the Stakeholders. It is sad that we had to wait for five long years to settle the matter that has affected a lot of people, who are dependent on coal mining and its subsidiary activities.”
The Chief Minister said that the judgment was late but was befitting as it has finally given recognition to the tribal rights over the land, the soil and the sub-soil. “As a government now we have to ensure that mining is streamlined with proper measures followed for safety and environmental concerns. We have fought this for a long time but our work has to continue. Because of the different issues there was complete complexity and confusion in the issue today this order has been able to give a structure to the confusion that we had,” he stated.
Reminding the coal traders and land owners, Conrad said that utmost care should be accorded to conserve and preserve the environment, so that land and its resources are conserved for future generation.
“We have to strike a balance between livelihood and the environment. We must ensure that we protect our environment. The land and the resources are the property of the tribal people which also implies that we have to take the responsibility,” he said.
He urged the land owners and miners not to be irresponsible but mine with deep concerns for nature and adhere to strict compliance and follow the laid down rules and procedures.
“The government is determined to ensure that we work closely with all the coal miners and extend necessary support that is required to ensure that the coal mining in the future will take place in a very systematic manner so that we take care of the environment and at the same time earn their livelihood,” the Chief Minister said.
He added, “It worries me as to what will happen when all the coal is exhausted. God has given us this second opportunity to tell us not to exploit the resources but use it in an efficient and judicious manner.”
He also suggested diversification of opportunities for livelihood for parallel economy with focus on agriculture, tourism, service sectors, hotels, food processing or other allied sectors.
“Our government for the past one year has been working tirelessly to ensure that development reaches all parts of the State equally in a balanced manner,” he added.
He said, “Contrary to claims of the opposition we are not just implementing schemes and projects that have been initiated by the previous government. I can cite numerous examples of projects that have been initiated by the previous government but never completed due to lack of financial resources. Today we are burdened by the past government’s actions. For past one year our government has tried to structure things,” he explained.
The Chief Minister informed that taxes and revenue grew by 20% in past one year which is a stark improvement compared to the previous government and we are working hard that our revenue growth reaches 25% in this financial year.
“There are many economic activities that the govt is undertaking. I can assure you that there is no financial crunch. We are managing the government and the finance in the best possible manner. Compared to most States Meghalaya is one of the best financially managed in the country,” he said.
Deputy Chief Minister Prestone Tynsong, Tourism Minister Metbah Lyngdoh and MLAs from West Khasi Hills were today felicitated by Ka Hima Nongstoin Land Owners, Coal Traders and Producers Association in recognition of the MDA government’s role for lifting of ban on coal mining.