Illegal Mining Of Coal Continues In The State With Possible State Participation: Meghalaya High Court
The Meghalaya High Court has observed that illegal mining of coal continues in the State despite several orders of the Court issued as a consequence of the ban imposed by the National Green Tribunal as upheld by the Supreme Court.
The Court observed that over 13 Lakh MT of coal was illegally mined, transported and discovered which the State sought to pass off as coal mined prior to the imposition of the ban.
"It, thus, appears that despite the several orders of this Court issued as a consequence of the ban imposed by the NGT as upheld by the Supreme Court, illegal mining of coal continues in the State with, possible, State participation and even encouragement.", a three-judge bench of Chief Justice Sanjib Banerjee, Justice H. S. Thangkhiew, and Justice W. Diengdoh observed.
The matter was taken up to monitor the progress made in the auction of the coal that was mined prior to the imposition of the ban by the National Green Tribunal as upheld by the Supreme Court.
In course of re-verifying and reassessing the quantity of coal that had been mined prior to the prohibition and that had to be auctioned, the Chief Secretary to the State has stated in a report that 32,56,715 MT of coal was available for auction.
The Court noted that in addition to the previously illegally mined coal measuring approximately 19,54,259 MT a further 13 lakh MT of coal was illegally mined.
Thus the Court directed that "Since previous orders of this Court had indicated that the relevant Superintendent of Police would be held in contempt if illegal mining or transportation of illegally mined coal was discovered within his jurisdiction, let a rule of contempt be issued against the Superintendent of Police, East Jaintia Hills based on the report dated December 3, 2022 filed by the Deputy Commissioner of the same district."
The Court directed that the remainder of the coal out of the approximately 32,56,715 MT of coal as indicated in the Chief Secretary's report has also to be auctioned since that is illegally mined.
The Court also directed that Justice B.P. Katakey (retired) will oversee the transportation and sale of even such part of the coal and any further quantity that may be seized by the State as a consequence of the illegal mining.
The next hearing on the matter will be held on February 7.
Cause Title- In Re: (Suo motu): Illegal mining of coal v. State of Meghalaya