Indicate Readiness to Check Illegal Coal Mining, Transportation in Meghalaya: HC to CISF

 The Meghalaya High Court has asked CISF to indicate its readiness to check illegal mining and transportation of coal in the north eastern state.

The direction was passed by the full bench of the HC headed by Chief Justice Sanjib Banerjee while hearing a public interest litigation on Monday.

“Let the matter appear three weeks hence for CISF to indicate its readiness,” the court said.

Deputy Solicitor General N Mozika told the court on March 13 that it will take at least four weeks to prepare logistics for the deployment of 10 companies of CISF.

He also said that the central force will proceed on the basis that the deployment will be necessary for at least two to three years before the state augments its human resources to take over the task.

The court order said since the selection of the personnel, arrangement of temporary accommodation for them and the like may require some time it is hoped that CISF will indicate within a fortnight how deployment on the ground can be ensured within four weeks from Monday.

The bench said that since the state had indicated plans to construct or otherwise provide accommodation for the CAPF personnel, Meghalaya should cooperate in the process and provide basic accommodation to the CISF personnel, including commandants of the companies.

It also directed that CISF should identify or engage one or more persons to be in charge on rotation basis. “The personnel should obtain an appointment with Justice Katakey and in the presence of representatives of the state, work out the places and modalities for ultimately deploying the 10 companies,” the bench directed.

Meanwhile, the court has also asked the state government to ensure that 23 proposed weigh bridges are in place and additional efforts be immediately made to install a larger number of them at strategic points after consultation with the CISF personnel and under the guidance of Justice Katakey.

The next hearing in the case will be held on April 12.

The HC adjourned the hearing of a PIL filed against illegal mining and transportation of coal to March 22 after the counsel of the petitioner sought adjournment on personal grounds.

Champer M Sangma in his PIL had said out that the object of the present public interest litigation is to establish the manner in which certain people are continuing to indulge in illegal mining and illegal transportation of coal with the tacit approval of the state.

In the PIL he referred to a letter in which one of the respondents had last year sought permission from the deputy commissioner of South Garo Hills to export the mineral available at Gasuapara to Bangladesh.

The respondent had indicated that a deposit of approximately 52,600 MT of coal was available at Gasuapara and that approximately 5060 trips by vehicles will be required to complete the export from the place.

It cast doubts that such a huge quantity of coal is available to the person, the petitioner said and pointed out that the source could not have been in Meghalaya. This is because pursuant to orders passed by the National Green Tribunal and Supreme Court there is a complete ban for about seven years on coal mining in Meghalaya and as of now no license has been issued for scientific mining of the mineral.

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