Mukul Sangma attacks M’laya govt., Centre to get state exempted from Mines and Minerals Act
Shillong, July 4 (PTI): Former chief minister Mukul Sangma Thursday accused the BJP-backed Meghalaya government and the Centre of taking a U-turn on the demand to get the state exempted from all relevant sections of the Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulations) Act and other central laws related to mining since it is under the Sixth Schedule.
Why has the state government and the government of India took a U-turn before the Supreme Court that all relevant sections of the MMDR Act have to apply to the state? There is nothing in Sixth Schedule of the Constitution which in any manner excludes the applicability of the MMDR Act, 1957 in tribal areas of the Hills District of Meghalaya, Mukul said in a statement here.
The senior state Congress leader warned that the fallout will ensure that the middle men and benami businessmen will prosper at the cost of the small mine owners keeping in mind the complexities and lengthy procedures that mine owners have to go through.
The statement came a day after the bench of Supreme Court which comprised of Justice Ashok Bhushan and Justice K M Joseph passed a judgment Wednesday on a case related to the coal mining ban imposed in Meghalaya by the National Green Tribunal (NGT) since 2014.
In its judgement, the Supeme Court directed that compliance of not only the MMDR Act, 1957 but Mines Act, 1952 as well as Environment (Protection) Act, 1986 should be ensured while carrying out coal mining in the hill state.
The Leader of Opposition recalled how the previous government had submitted a proposal to the Centre following the House adopting a resolution in 2015 urging the Government of India to ensure that the Coal Mines (Nationalization) Act, 1973 and the MMDR Act, 1957 shall not apply in Meghalaya through issuance of a Presidential notification under Para 12A(b) of Sixth Schedule of the Constitution.
Mukul said the proposal was agreed upon by the Union ministry of coal after long drawn consultations of a Committee led by the Union cabinet secretary.
The committee, constituted by then Prime Minister Manmohan Singh, includes secretaries from the ministry of mines, ministry of coal, ministry of forest and environment and climate change besides other ministries of the Central government and the chief secretary of Meghalaya.
The Leader of Opposition alleged that the state government did not do its homework and misled the Supreme Court on the presence of 32 lakh metric tons of extracted coal lying in the mining areas in four districts.
This number never existed but with a clear intent to facilitate illegal coal mining, Mukul said.