NHRC takes up issue of illegal coal mining in Meghalaya

Shillong, Dec 15: The ‘open hearing and camp sitting’ of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) held in Shillong took up the matter of illegal coal mining in Meghalaya.

“The Commission raised the query when illegal mining is going on it is not a small operation which can escape the eye of state authorities. So what is the reason that illegal mining is allowed to go on like this,” the member of the NHRC said.

The State government present in the hearing contented that it involves a number of departments and therefore some lapses could have been committed.

The Commission raised the issue that if the mining is lawful, the auction will be done and the revenue will come to the State.

“Otherwise the illegal miner engages illegally the labour. So the whole law is being displaced. I think the authorities were convinced that even it was a multi departmental task then some mechanism could be evolved to put a check on illegal mining and to avoid. Once it is a licenced mining then all protective measures to protect the labourer and mine in a safe manner could be ensured,” the Commission member said.

The NHRC also took up two cases pertaining to deaths of labourers in illegal mines in the State.

“In one case there were deaths of six labourers and in the second case there were deaths of five labourers in a flooded mine,” member of the Commission M. M. Kumar told reporters.

According to Kumar, the Meghalaya government officials informed the NHRC that compensation of Rs. 5 lakh each were paid to the victims who were identified.

At the hearing, the NHRC informed that NGOs took up the matter of right to food especially, Adhaar seeding with ration card.

According to the NGOs this is not productive due to various factors like no internet connection.

“The manual Public Distribution System (PDS) is in place because the state authorities have taken the stand that no one in the State was without food. But the NGOs had refuted this stand, we have asked the State government again to come back with a reply about the status,” Kumar added.

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