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Panel flags lack of progress in reversing Meghalaya coal mining damage

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The State’s abandoned pit closure has also been requested by the Brojendra Prasad Katakey committee.

WAHATI

Panel flags lack of progress in reversing Meghalaya coal mining damage
Panel notes insufficient progress in undoing harm caused by coal mining in Meghalaya



The lack of progress in repairing the environment harmed by rat-hole coal mining in the northeastern state has been brought to the attention of a one-member panel that the High Court of Meghalaya constituted to examine coal-related matters.

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The Justice (retired) Brojendra Prasad Katakey also underlined the non-utilisation of the Meghalaya Environment Protection and Restoration Fund (MEPRF) apart from the sanctioning of a few projects.

Aside from the approval of a small number of projects, the Meghalaya Environment Protection and Restoration Fund (MEPRF) has not been used, as highlighted by retired justice Brojendra Prasad Katakey.

In order to extract coal, rat-hole miners excavate tiny tunnels just big enough for a person to squeeze through.

The panel stated in its 22nd interim report, which was turned in to the court last week, that the relevant departments must spend ₹400 crore in the MEPRF and an additional ₹100 crore with the Central Pollution Control Board to restore Meghalaya’s ecology that has been harmed by mining.

According to the report, the majority of the abandoned residents who live close to the mines still endure hardships as a result of ongoing acid mine drainage from the open mine pits.

The committee further stated that an audit of the coal source used in cement companies’ captive power plants, ferroalloy, and coke ovens was underway and should be finished in three weeks.

Two coke facilities’ statements were reviewed by an audit committee that was established for this specific reason. It informed the Katakey panel that these two units would have to pay ₹2.24 crore in royalties and cess for utilising unaccounted coal.

According to the interim report, the drone survey to determine whether any more mined coal is available in the affected districts has not yet started, therefore the transportation of re-assessed or re-verified inventoried coal to the designated depots has not yet been finished.

The panel suggested that the drone survey be carried out as soon as the reassessed or re-verified inventoried coal has been transported to the depots designated by Coal India Limited.

The goal of the survey is to identify coal resources that were unlawfully mined following the NGT prohibition and to execute the necessary actions, such as seizing the coal in accordance with the Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Act, 1957.

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