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

The Congress has slammed the National People’s Party-led Meghalaya Democratic Alliance (MDA) government for allegedly delaying the start of scientific mining of coal which has led to “poverty affecting many households in the coal-rich district of East Jaintia Hills”.

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Meghalaya Pradesh Congress Committee (MPCC) chief Vincent H Pala said that the people in Meghalaya are in favour of legal mining of coal.

“People are ready for that but this government, instead of making laws, instead of giving proposals to Delhi to amend the law, to amend the rules, they have not done anything why, because they don’t want scientific mining, they don’t want legal mining as they want things to be illegal to benefit themselves,” he said.

“If it is scientific or legal coal mining, there will be lots of improvement in the health and well-being of the people but as of now it is only for certain section of the people,” he added.

Pala also accused the state government of leaving the people high and dry after the National Green Tribunal (NGT) imposed a blanket ban on illegal rat-hole mining of coal.

The MPCC chief, who is expected to contest from Sutnga-Saipung constituency in the upcoming assembly elections in the state, said that during his door-to-door visit, he found that poverty is so high among the people living in the coal belt areas of the district.

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He said that people cannot even afford to repair their dilapidated houses or to offer tea to a guest while in some areas, people have got more than 40-50 luxury cars adding those who are rich are becoming too rich and those who are poor are becoming too poor.

Congress leader Vincent H Pala added that this was one of the main reasons that he has taken the decision to join state politics so that he can help the people.

He said poverty will be there until and unless the government takes the initiatives to develop policies where livelihood can be protected and poverty is minimized.

He then informed that the party has formed units in the different blocks and polling stations and the process of starting the campaign is on.

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