The National Green Tribunal (NGT) Bench, presided by NGT Chairperson Justice Adarsh Kumar Goel on Friday while purusing a report submitted by an independent committee on mining in the State, and citing the enormous loss to the environment, imposed a fine of Rs.100 crore over Meghalaya government and directed the government to deposit the said amount with the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) within two months time.
The order of the Tribunal came during the hearing of batch of Petitions seeking a ban on coal mining in Meghalaya.
The bench also clarified that the amount of fine can be recovered from illegal miners and the responsible authorities operating mines illegally.
Advocate Raj Panjwani, who is the amicus in the matter said that the report clearly indicates that the order issued in April 2014 has been blatantly violated as the Acid Mine Discharge (AMD) has been continuing, polluting the water bodies, including rivers and lakes, to an extent that their water is not suitable for consumption of human.
The Tribunal further directed to seize all the cranes present at the sites and added that seized 2,700 trucks, which were transporting illegal coal, be released only when 50% value of a new truck is paid.
The committee constituted in August last year headed by retired Justice B P Kakoti of Gauhati High Court, was directed to prepare a time-bound action plan in relation with the restoration of environment as well as for the rehabilitation of the victims. The report was submitted on January 2 before a bench headed by NGT chairperson A K Goel.
Hopefully, the fine been imposed upon government would act as a deterrent for the State to restrain illegal mining activities as majority of which are operating in the north eastern state without a lease or licence.
Recently 15 miners are trapped in the 370 feet deep illegal coal mine in Meghalaya since December 13, and that the government and authorities have miserably failed to pump out the water out of the flooded mine and rescue the trapped miners.