State

Activist petitions govt against illegal coke factories    

Shillong, May 25: Activist Tennydard Marak has sought answers from the state government regarding the disappearance of coal in Shallang area and mushrooming of coke factories.

In a letter addressed to the Director of Mineral Resources on Tuesday, Marak said that there has been rampant shipment of coke from Meghalaya despite the ban on coal mining since April, 2014.

According to Tennydard, there is huge revenue loss inspite of the presence of government officials deputed to check the revenue leakage as coal is the only and the maximum revenue generating item of Meghalaya and the people of Meghalaya solely depend and survive on the coal business.

The activist asked how the government allowed mushrooming growth of illegal coke industries in West Khasi Hills mainly in coal rich Shallang leading to a revenue leakage and at the same time largely responsible for environment degradation.

Media reports had said that there are at least 26 coke plants, mostly illegally set up in Shallang area, whereas official clearance was granted only to 14 plants.

“Now, the question arises as to how these coke plants were granted licenses to operate when the raw materials required for running these plants are coal whereas coal mining has been banned since April, 2014”, he said.

He pointed out that although the state government is portraying that there is huge quantity of extracted coal in the mining site and dumping sites, in reality, there is no coal (zero coal) available in Shallang area- neither in mining site nor in the dumping site.

Marak said the coke factories came into existence during the ban on coal mining imposed by the NGT.

“The factories use the same coal to produce coke. This happens even as the government continues to deny the fact of illegal coal mining. Now the question arises as to how these factories are running normally, they

must be using coal and if they are using coal, then where from the huge  quantity of coal is coming”, he said.

“Despite the supreme court ban on transportation of coal, the coal traders in West Khasi Hills have now started to supply coal in the guise of coke.  What is surprising to notice is that why the administration, despite the order of the Supreme Court and NGT, is allowing this unlawful act to carry on uninterruptedly”, Marak said.

He pointed out that persons with sufficiently sound financial resources such as business tycoons can only start and run the coke factories and therebyearn huge revenue whereas the state government is getting only zero revenue.

Marak pointed out that on the one hand, the state government has opened the transportation of  coal for a brief period in compliance with the Supreme Court order and NGT guidelines and thereafter again totally stopped transportation of coal and issuing of challans.

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