Habitat, topography & environment priority while granting clearance to open cast mining: Katakey report

Shillong, Feb 10: The single member committee on coal issues, BP Katakey appointed by the High Court of Meghalaya, has cautioned the state government on open cast mining and wanted it and the miners to follow environment norms.

According to the 20th interim report of Katakey, during his field visit conducted on February 1, the committee has been apprised by the advisor and other officers of one of the four applicants that coal would be mined by adopting the open cast mining method and it is expected to take atleast 6 months’ time for commencement of mining subject to the grant of Environment Clearance.


“The adverse effect, if any, on the habitat as well as on the topography of the mining area and also on the environment would need to be gone into by the appropriate authorities while considering the applications filed for Environment Clearance”, Katakey said in his report.

The report on status is reproduced below

Status of mining activities pursuant to the prospective licenses granted for coal under the Mineral Concession Rules, 1960:

(i) “The Mining and Geology Department, Govt. of Meghalaya has informed the Committee about obtaining the prospective licenses for coal mining in the State by 17 applicants under the provisions of the Mineral Concession Rules, 1960, out of which Geological Report of 4 applicants have been approved by Ministry of Coal, Govt. of India. It has also been apprised that previous approval of the Central Govt. for grant of mining lease has also been granted in respect of those 4 applicants, who have submitted the mining plans, which have also been approved by the Ministry of Coal, Govt. of India. According to the Mining and Geology Department, Govt. of Meghalaya, those project proponents have submitted their applications to complete the Environment Clearance from the concerned authorities in the State Govt. and the Central Govt., which is yet to be granted.

Approval of 2 more Geological Reports by the Ministry of Coal, Govt. of India have also been stated by the Mining and Geology Department, Govt. of Meghalaya. It has however, not been informed as to whether the Govt. of India has granted previous approval for grant of mining lease and whether any mining plan has been submitted by those 2 applicants.

(ii) The details of the aforementioned 4 applicants, as furnished by the Mining and Geology Department, Govt. of Meghalaya, who have been granted previous approval for granting mining lease under Rule 42(2) of Mineral Concession Rule, 1960 and stated to have submitted their applications for the Environment Clearance, are given below”

Summary of other  recommendations 

These are the recommendations of the Katakey committee on pending issues

“It is recommended that final timeline for transportation of such coal to the designated depot till 29/02/2024 be set and thereafter such left out coal, if still available and not meanwhile illegally sold and illegally transported, be seized by the authority and transported to the designated depot within 1 month thereafter for auction by the CIL, as the coal owners stated to have not shown interest in transportation of the remaining re-assessed/re-verified inventoried coal from pithead to the designated depots in East Jaintia Hills District, despite issuance of 3 public notices setting the deadline for transportation, where maximum quantity of such coal remained to be transported. It is also recommended that the sale proceed of such seized coal be entirely deposited owners for their reluctance to Govt. fund after payment to CIL for the auction and to the MEPRF. A public notice in that respect in local languages be issued and circulated widely for information of all concerned.

Similar measures may also be taken in respect of the other 3 districts if the transportation of the remaining re-assessed/re- verified inventoried coal is not completed by 29/02/2024.

The Committee also recommends drone survey and videography of the aforementioned 4 districts, after completion of transportation of re-assessed/re-verified inventoried coal to the designated depots, so as to find out the availability of coal in such districts, which if found may be seized immediately under the provisions of the MMDR Act 1957 and put to sale and the sale proceed be deposited to the State fund after payment towards MEPRF.

Auction deadline by March 31

The Committee recommends auction of entire available re-assessed /re-verified inventoried coal by the CIL by 31/03/2024 as the earlier timeline set has not been achieved due to non- transportation of entire such coal from pithead to the designated depots.

It is recommended that immediate steps for filing the appropriate applications before the appropriate court of law for auction of the seized coal need to be taken, so that entire seized coal could be sold in auction urgently.

Khliehriat case 

The Committee recommends issuance of direction to the Superintendent of Police, East Jaintia Hills District for ensuring early completion of the investigation into the Khlierihat PS Case No 87(11) 2023 so that if anyone is found guilty for commission of the offence, he can be dealt with under the law urgently.

The Committee recommends submission of a report by the Deputy Commissioner, East Jaintia Hills District about the final action taken on the weighbridge setup behind the Don-Bosco College, Byndihati, within a fortnight.

Coke plants

The Deputy Commissioners of the concerned districts, therefore, have been advised to ensure that those 19 Coke Oven Plants do not carry out any operation and to submit a report within a fortnight.

The Committee, therefore, recommends issuance of directions to the Deputy Commissioners of East Jaintia Hills District, West Khasi Hills District and South West Khasi Hills District to ensure closure of said 19 Coke Oven Plants (as per the particulars provided by the Member Secretary, MSPCB vide communication dated 02/02/2024), till they possess the valid CTO.

The Committee, in view of the above, recommends initiation of appropriate proceedings for realization of the royalty and cess demanded from the aforesaid 3 Coke Oven Plants, which have so far either not responded to the demand notices or not paid the amount demanded.

Fence mine openings 

The mine openings of not only the abandoned mines but also of all active mines need to be closed down urgently so as to avoid loss of human life and also of livestock apart from continued release of Acid Mine Drainage (AMD). It is also recommended that since the closure of mine is a time consuming process, all the mine openings need to be immediately fenced so as to avoid loss of human life as well as the life of the livestock.

Proposed next meeting with the concerned officers regarding implementation of various directions:

The Committee proposed to have the next meeting with the officers of the concerned departments and the Deputy Commissioners of the concerned districts as well as with all the concerned agencies on 01/03/2024 in Shillong to take stock of the implementations of the various directions issued by the Hon’ble Supreme Court, this Hon’ble High Court and the NGT”.

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