Shillong, June 3: Shining Langstang, the owner of the coal mine in East Jaintia Hills where another mishap took place last Sunday, surrendered to the district police on Thursday.
Langstang, who was later arrested, is from Sutnga. The Sordar, Nizam Uddin, is still absconding and a lookout notice was issued after the incident. Earlier, brother of mine owner, Rightful Chyrmang, was also arrested.
Chief Minister Conrad Sangma said on Thursday that those involved in illegal coal mining in the state will be punished and that the government will examine the opposition’s suggestion to set up independent inquiry in every coal-rich district.
Sangma said though there are laws to stop illegal activities, crime do take place, but the MDA government “has continuously made efforts” to stop illegal coal mining.
“…but yes we have seen unfortunately that in some areas this has happened but from the government side, we are very firm, we are very clear that none of these illegal activities will be allowed and anybody involved in such activities, strict action as per law will be taken against them,” Sangma reiterated.
The coal mine where the accident took place last Sunday was abandoned for quite some time, as per reports submitted to the government.
“From the initial reports that are coming to us, there was some kind of activity which looked like they were looking at the option of starting mining out there. So, it was technically an abandoned coal mine — what was the purpose of them going there we don’t know but we can presume it was with the intention of starting some kind of mining but again it is something which is not very clear,” the chief minister said.
Five workers from Assam are feared dead in the accident.
Sangma wrote on Twitter, “Reviewed the mining incident in East Jaintia Hills with DC and officials. Arrest has been made and rescue operations are underway.”
On the opposition Congress’ demand for setting up independent inquiries in coal-rich districts, the chief minister said the government would examine the suggestion.
“We have been very clear and have taken a number of steps to ensure that illegal mining does not take place but we will examine this demand that has come from the opposition and accordingly will take action after examining the entire matter,” he added.
On the rescue operation, Sangma told reporters that the weather has made work difficult. “We hope that with the rain stopping there will be some scope for us to be able to work… I have requested the home minister to personally visit the site and monitor this entire situation, which he has been doing.”
The NDRF team has already reached the site.