Meghalaya allows mining for domestic purpose, barred export


Shillong, May 2 (IANS): Amidst two-week extension of the nationwide lockdown, the Meghalaya government has decided to allow mining activities to resume from May 4 for domestic purpose and barred the export outside the country, officials said on Saturday.

An official of Meghalaya's Commerce and Industries Department said the state government has issued a notification on Friday allowing the mining of limestone and boulder by licence and lease-holders companies for domestic sale 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, available with IANS, said that the cement plants to operate at 50 per cent capacity subject to regulation by the Commerce and Industries Department on the number of trucks allowed plying.

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

He said that the state government has also decided to allow the Export Promotion Industrial Park in Byrnihat, Umiam Industrial Estate, Industrial units in West Khasi Hills, Jaintia and Garo Hills to resume their activities from Monday.

The Deputy Chief Minister said that public transport with some restrictions (utilise 50 per cent seating capacity) would be allowed to resume from Monday in the entire state barring Shillong, an orange zone, where restrictions are still effective.

The Meghalaya government on Thursday declared 10 of the state's 11 districts as 'green zones' and allowed inter-district movement as no COVID-19 case was reported from these 10 districts.

All the 12 coronavirus positive cases in the mountainous state, including one death of a senior doctor, have been reported in the capital city Shillong that falls under East Khasi Hills district. The mountainous state currently has one active COVID-19 case.

Meghalaya exports around 5 to 8 lakh million tonnes (MT) of coal extracted from underground pits and bowels to Bangladesh every year at a cost of 52 dollars per MT.

The Bangladesh government had on a number of occasions citing high sulphur content in coal mined from Meghalaya which causes pollution. Subsequently, the ban was lifted by that country as the users, mostly the brick kilns, preferred Meghalaya coal due to its low ash content.

According to an official report, more than 33 lakh tonnes of coal have been exported from Meghalaya to Bangladesh since the ban on rat-hole coal mining was imposed by the National Green Tribunal (NGT) in April 2014.

The NGT had banned unscientific and ecologically unsafe rat-hole mining of coal in Meghalaya though it intermittently allowed transportation of already mined coal from time to time.

Rat-hole mining involves digging of narrow tunnels, usually 3-4 feet high, for workers to enter and extract coal.The horizontal tunnels are often termed "rat-holes", as each just about fits one person.

At least 17 people had killed on December 13, 2018 in one of the hundreds of rat-hole mine.

  

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