Shillong(Meghalaya), March 16 : Chief Minister Conrad K Sangma on Wednesday informed the Assembly that scientific coal mining in the state is expected to start this year.
The chief minister’s assertions came eight years after the National Green Tribunal (NGT) banned unscientific coal mining and transportation in this North-eastern state.
Replying to a query by Nongpoh MLA Mayralborn Syiem, Sangma said he cannot give assurance in the House, but expects that operations will start in a few mines within six to eight months.
Altogether 17 entities have submitted applications for grant of prospecting license for coal and all have received approval from the central government. They are now in the exploration stage for generating geological reports before obtaining mining leases, he said.
It will be a slow process as it is happening for the first time, the chief minister said.
“It will be a learning experience for everyone – not only for the landowners and the miners but also for the government agencies. As we move forward, we will be able to streamline the process,” he said. The government will also get more revenue, Sangma said.
The chief minister also informed the House that multiple awareness programmes for miners were held in the different coal-rich districts of the state.
The NGT had in 2014 banned unscientific rat-hole coal mining and transportation for the safety of miners and environmental protection.
A deep vertical shaft is usually dug till coal seams are found in the age-old practice in Meghalaya what is also known as rat-hole mining. Once the seams are found, coal is taken out through small holes along the horizontal line of the coal seams The Supreme Court had in July 2019 lifted the ban.
It had said that if coal mining is done under the Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Act and the Mineral Concession Rules 1960, the ban imposed by the NGT will not be applicable.
Source : PTI