Shillong, Sep 7: High Court of Meghalaya on Wednesday ordered issuing a suo motu rule of contempt to the Chief Secretary and the Secretary in the Department of Mining for the ‘flagrant and deliberate violation of orders of the court and the directions, including the August 25 order regarding issues related to coal mining.
The move is also for the acts of omission and commission in terms of wilful failure to make an inventory of the exact quantum of coal at each place as ordered on August 25.
It will be evident that the relevant order noticed a previous inventory that may have been presented before the National Green Tribunal and carried to the Supreme Court and the various places where the coal was dumped by the roadside”, the court said.
The full bench comprising Chief Justice Sanjib Banerjee and judges W Diengdoh and HS Thangkhiew wanted a fresh inventory to be made, which does not seem to have been done.
The court pointed out wilful failure on the part of the contemnors in their official
capacities to implement the prohibition of mining coal in the state without obtaining appropriate license in accordance with law.
“Instances in such regard are available in plain sight all over the state, including in Khliehriat and nearby areas, and are continuously reported in newspapers, indeed, recent deaths due to rat-hole mining have occurred and have been widely reported. As recently as last week illegal mining in a remote area of West Khasi Hills was also reported”, the court said.
The court noticed with alarm that the administration has been attempting
to obfuscate the issue which leads to the perception that the administration may not be serious in implementing the prohibition on
“Rigs and like structures are used at the mining sites which are visible from quite a distance. Freshly mined coal is easy to identify and is being regularly dumped at several places in the state which
previously had no collection of coal. There are also petitions which have been filed pertaining to the transportation of the recently mined coal and the administration turning a Nelson’s eye to the same”, the court said.
One of the petitions pending in the court speaks of illegally mined coal in the state being shown to have originated in Assam by forging and fabricating documents, the order said.
“The foregoing part of this order will not be effective and will remain in abeyance since learned Advocate-General seeks 10 days’ time to seriously address all issues”, the court said.
The court wanted the government to place the report filed by the state on compliance of the August 25 order before Justice Katakey for his verification of the steps alleged to have been taken by the state.
The matter will come up for hearing on September 22.