Meghalaya allows coal mining for domestic purpose, barred export

May 7,2020

The Meghalaya government, in the midst of a two-week extension of the nationwide lockdown, decided to allow mining activities to resume from May 4 for domestic purposes and barred exports outside the country, officials said on Saturday.

An official from Meghalaya's Department of Commerce and Industries said the state government released a notification on Friday allowing for the mining of limestone and boulder by licensing and leasing companies for domestic selling within the country.

"Export outside the country is not permitted until further orders," the official said quoting the official notification, issued by the state Chief Secretary M. S. Rao.

The notification, accessible with IANS, said the cement plants had allowed plying to operate at a capacity of 50 percent subject to regulation by the Commerce and Industries Department on the number of trucks.

Pretone Tynsong Deputy Chief Minister Meghalaya said that after thorough discussions with all stakeholders, it was decided that mining activities by the licensed companies would resume their activities from May 4.

He said the state government has also decided to permit the Byrnihat Export Promotion Industrial Park, Umiam Industrial Estate, West Khasi Hills Industrial Units, Jaintia, and Garo Hills to restart their operations from Monday. He also said that some restricted public transport (use 50 percent seating capacity) will be able to resume from Monday throughout the state except Shillong, an orange zone where restrictions are still effective.

On Thursday, the Meghalaya government declared 10 of the 11 districts of the state as 'green zones' and permitted inter-district movement as no COVID-19 case from these 10 districts was registered. All the 12 positive cases of coronavirus in the mountainous province, including one death of a senior doctor, were registered in Shillong, the capital city that comes under the district of East Khasi Hills. One effective COVID-19 case currently occurs for the mountainous state.

Meghalaya exports between 5 to 8 lakh million tonnes of coal mined from underground pits and bowels annually to Bangladesh at a cost of $52 per million tonnes.

On a number of occasions the government of Bangladesh had cited high sulfur content in Meghalaya coal mined which causes pollution. The ban was eventually lifted by that country as the users, mainly because of its low ash content Meghalaya coal was preferred by the brick kilns.

Over 33 lakh tonnes of coal have been exported from Meghalaya to Bangladesh after the National Green Tribunal (NGT) placed a ban on rat-hole coal mining in April 2014, an official report states.

The NGT banned unscientific and environmentally dangerous rat-hole coal mining in Meghalaya while from time to time it approved transportation of already extracted coal.

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