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[Illegal Mining] Meghalaya High Court Calls For Stricter Norms To 'Stop Plundering Of Natural Resources'

Basit Amin Makhdoomi
13 March 2023 5:25 AM GMT
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The Meghalaya High Court recently directed the State Government for preparation of a blueprint to maintain the condition of roads in the State besides working out a “stricter set of norms” both for checking and control to stop the plundering of the bountiful natural resources available in the State.

The observations were made by the division bench of the High Court comprising Chief Justice Sanjib Banerjee and Justice W. Diengdoh while hearing a Public Interest Litigation regarding overloading by trucks carrying coal and other goods.

At the outset the court said that this matter has dragged on for more than a year with very little effort or intent on the part of the State government to check the menace of overloading of goods vehicles that the petitioner perceives to be rampant across the State.

Expressing serious concerns over the inaction of the government in dealing with the matter, the bench pointed that across the State, illegal coal mining continues unabated despite the State’s assurance to adhere to subsisting court and tribunal orders and representations to the contrary.

"Orders of the court disbelieving the State on the basis of material available have cut no ice with the State. Even previous orders indicating that the State appears to be complicit in the illegal mining industries have been quietly digested. Indeed, even if local inhabitants are driven to illegal mining, for want of any other source of livelihood, if the illegal transportation thereof across the State were to be arrested, there would be no demand and, consequently, the illegal mining would come down or stop altogether,’ the bench said.

Pointing out to the wanton limestone quarrying, the court said that the recent orders of this court have referred to a mischievous tweak in the rules that have l allowed incidental mining to be carried out and in the name of ‘incidental mining', thousands of tonnes of mineral have been disposed of without any license being obtained or any norms being adhered to.

Highlighting the sorry state of affairs, the bench went on to add that the executive which is tasked with the duty of protecting and preserving the assets of the State “is complicit in the wanton plundering”, and that several of the roads, including some of the key roads or bypasses that lead to the southern North-East states, are in a pitiable state. The extent of the damage is primarily due to overloading of vehicles that the State seems to do little about,” the bench underscored.

In view of the same the bench asked the State Transport Secretary to personally look into the matter and devise a scheme to deal with the menace. It also directed the Transport Secretary to seek the assistance of the Indian Institute of Management, Shillong to prepare a blueprint in this regard.

The bench listed the matter again on March 31st 2023 for further consideration.

Case Title: Tennydard M. Marak & ors Vs State of Meghalaya.

Click Here To Read/Download Order

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