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

The Constitutional Rights Forum (CRF) has written to the chief secretary of Meghalaya seeking an immediate stop on the transport of coal being permitted by the district of South Garo Hills, alleging the coal is being illegally mined in the district.

CRF, in its complaint, has urged the chief secretary for action against those concerned officials for allowing the “illegal acts” to continue.

Earlier, an order allowing the transport of coal through the state of Meghalaya from Assam was given to one M/S Jaimaa Coal Private Limited of Guwahati. Through the order, the coal from outside the state could be transported through Meghalaya and exported through the port of Gasuapara into neighbouring Bangladesh.

A similar order to the same effect had also been provided by the DC of SGH to one Maruti Fuels, Dudhnoi in Assam.

The forum however alleged that the coal that was being transported into Bangladesh was not being brought from outside the state but was being mined from the district of South Garo Hills itself.

“The company is not transporting coal from Assam but from our district itself. This coal is being mined illegally. They are transporting coal from the villages of Rongding Awe, Dangsa Awe, Rongsa Awe, Gare Gittim and Are Gittim,” said CRF president, Francis R Marak.

Earlier, the DMR had issued challans in the name of the successful bidder, Babul Marak for the coal that has been lying in the district in the above-mentioned villages. This, they added, was the coal that is being transported with freshly dug, illegal coal being added on a daily basis.

The continued transport of coal, as per the CRF, has also been affecting the road, which though a national highway, is still like a village road.

“The road cannot take the heavy loads that these trucks are carrying and is thus being damaged. This has caused immense suffering to the people of the area. The road needs to be immediately upgraded,” added CRF secretary, Greneth Sangma.

The CRF further alleged that the entire coal transport was taking place with the help of colluding government officials and politicians. The illegal transport, they asserted, would also cause a huge loss to the state exchequer.

“There are no checks on the number of trucks or the quantity of coal being transported as there is no system in place to do so. This has given scope for manipulation for both illegal mining and transport. We, therefore, seek a spot inquiry to verify the information and action against those colluding officers,” added the CRF press note.

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