File photo of coal transportation in Meghalaya (Photo: The Shillong Times)

The National Green Tribunal (NGT) has served a notice on the Meghalaya government seeking its response regarding action taken to stop illegal mining and transportation of coal in the state.

“The NGT has directed the state government to file a reply within four weeks,” Pawan Sharma, who had filed a petition before the tribunal, seeking stoppage of “all illegal mining, transport and export of coal from Meghalaya”, informed on September 2.

In a statement issued in Shillong, Sharma said that the NGT held its meeting on September 1 (Tuesday) in respect of illegal coal mining in which the matter relating to his complaint to the tribunal about the non- implementation of the NGT’s directives by the Meghalaya government was taken up.

In his petition, Sharma named Suraj Joshi, one of the associates of former home minister James Sangma, who has been serving as his personal secretary, in connection with the “illegal coal trade”.

The petitioner also pointed out the role of Joshi and said that no action was ever initiated against Joshi from any quarter which only reveals the fact that attempts were made to shield those who were involved in the crime.

“The Meghalaya Legislative Assembly did not remain untouched with the prevailing corruption in the coal episode and after much hue and cry the home minister James Sangma had to resign,” Sharma said in his petition.

While seeking NGT’s intervention to stop illegal coal mining and action against those perpetuating the unlawful activities, Sharma reminded the green court on its order imposing a complete ban on “rat hole mining” in Meghalaya and thereafter on the basis of several recommendations of the committee constituted by it, the tribunal issued many directions to check “rat hole mining” and abuse of process of law by the state of Meghalaya regarding extraction, transport and export of coal and causing loss to the public exchequer besides degrading the environment.

But, Sharma said that, “rat hole mining” continues unabated with impunity along with the consequential illegal transportation and export of coal.

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