Mukul to Conrad: ‘Let’s go to ground zero to substantiate claim of no illegal coal mining

SHILLONG, Feb 5: Leader of the Opposition in the Meghalaya Assembly, Dr Mukul Sangma on Wednesday demanded that the State government should prove that there is no illegal transportation of coal by having a group to go to “ground zero”.

Addressing media persons Dr Sangma suggested that the state government provide its representative, the media and independent bodies including other political parties to go and see what’s happening on the ground zero.

The leader of opposition said that this is to substantiate State Chief Minister, Conrad Sangma’s claim that that there is no illegal mining going on.

“Everyone knows what is happening. You go to the national highways, you go to Assam,” he added.

Dr Sangma also alleged that there is a cartel working to engage in irregularities depriving the state and the autonomous district councils of its scarce resources and vitiating the environment and bringing bad name to the State.

According to him a cartel has been created to engage in irregularities and corruption pertaining to coal mining.

The leader of opposition also alleged that officers in the government are being used as “pawns”.

“Now I am told that these officers are constantly told you do what we say otherwise you are removed. It is an unacceptable, distressful precedence that’s been created,” he pointed out.

He also pointed to a complaint lodged with the National Green Tribunal (NGT), pertaining to the manner in which the cartel has found a new way to facilitate illegal mining and their transportation.

Referring to a case pertaining to the so-called process of seizing of unclaimed coal, Dr Sangma said that the cartel proceeded ahead with the so-called public auction, and one of the complaint said that they went and tried to verify where the unclaimed coal which is seized by the authorities are but he could not though he tried to find the so-called unclaimed coal which was seized by the authorities.

According to him the modus operandi is that they claim that there is an unclaimed coal.

But Dr Sangma said that the procedure is that if there is unclaimed coal, unclaimed property or assets anywhere, there is a due process, to verify whether there is an owner or not.

“It is a serious allegation which means there is no coal but then there was auction,” the leader of opposition said.

Dr Sangma alleged that the for the so called public auction, the notification was given around 15 days ahead, but actual publication in the print media was given just one day ahead of the actual auction date.

He said, “You call this public auction. Is it the way to do public auction. Have they not known how public auction is done.”

The leader of opposition pointed out that all these are standing evidence of irregularities and the actual cartel that the government has created.

Meanwhile, Dr Sangma also expressed concern over the fact that the State government challenged the January 10 order of the Meghalaya Lokayukta to transfer the officials to facilitate a fair probe by the CBI into the coal racket case.

“The state government of the day is trying to resist the overall process of law mandated by the Meghalaya Lokayukta,” the leader of opposition said.

According to him, the Meghalaya Lokayukta Act, 2014 was passed by the Assembly based on the intend to instill some sense of probity prevails in public life.

He said that this is very important in a democracy, for people to have confidence on the system.

The leader of opposition said that the State government has been trying to somehow delay the whole process of investigation even after the order passed by the Lokayukta.

“This is a serious trend, unprecedented and unwanted. If you want anti-graft law to prevail and ensure that the State ultimately is corruption free as desired by the people than those in public life and government employees maintain probity of the highest order,” Dr Sangma said.

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