SHILLONG- The Meghalaya High Court has instructed the state government to call the Assam Police for assistance in apprehending the “kingpins” responsible for the illegal coal mining in the hill state.
Hearing a PIL on the subject, a bench, headed by Chief Justice Sanjib Banerjee, held that it appears that the state’s miners are small-time operators, and the operations, as a whole, are under the control of outside “kingpins”.
It also mentioned that it had earlier advocated for a Central Bureau of Investigation probe into the illegal coal mining nexus.
“If the state is serious in dealing with the issue, it is possible for the state police to obtain the assistance and cooperation of the Assam Police to launch a combined operation not only to arrest the illegality but also to stop exploitation of the state’s small miners by operators functioning from elsewhere,” the court said.
The bench observed that it was up to the state to take the necessary actions to give miners with alternate means of support if they were to lose their jobs as a result of the prohibition on unlawful mining.
“Indeed, due to the state’s inaction in disposing of the previously illegally-mined coal, it allowed freshly-mined coal to be dumped on the roadsides and attempted it to be passed off as the previously-mined coal,” the court said. It further observed that coke-oven plants mushroomed all over the state indicates that the transportation of the illegally-mined coal was rampant.
It also criticised the state government for claiming that scientific coal mining has not yet begun, despite possible earlier work on feasibility studies.