BJP pledged to end coal ban

SHILLONG, AUG 12: The BJP today hammered at the Congress-led state government’s failure to come up with a mining plan for restoring coal mining in Meghalaya for the past 3 years as it vowed to find a “comprehensive solution” within 8 months, if elected to power in 2018.

“We as a party if voted to power in Meghalaya are making a commitment that we will work with the stakeholders including those in the field of environment protection and come to a comprehensive solution and work it out with the Centre to the satisfaction of the law in the country,” BJP national spokesman Nalin Kohli told reporters here on Saturday.

He went on to set a target by saying, “We will work in towards that and within a time span of 6 to 8 months, if voted to power in 2018.”

His statement came as a reaction on the state government’s decision to propose to the National Green Tribunal (NGT) to allow the Meghalaya Mineral Development Corporation Ltd (MMDC) to take up mining activities in the state as per provisions of the MMDR Act.

An affidavit on this proposal was filed on August 10, by the state government before the NGT, which had imposed a blanket ban against unscientific coal mining for the past three years with several directions to the former to submit a proper mining plan.

It may be mentioned here, the proposal of the state government to allow the MMDC to take up mining activities was strongly opposed by the mining community during a meeting chaired by the chief minister Mukul Sangma onApril 4, earlier this year.

However Kohli said, “Instead of looking at the issue in totality (from a scientific point of view and environment protection) and instead of submitting a mining plan which the NGT has been asking, the state government suddenly now said it would like the MMDC to start the mining when elections are just 6 months away.”

He further alleged that the state government is not serious about resolving the issue of coal mining in the state when three years lapsed and despite orders have been passed, yet nothing has moved to ensure the state has its own mining plan to regulate mining activities.

Pointing out to peculiar land tenure system in Meghalaya where land belongs to the people, he however said, “Can any such step (like the MMDC, essentially a government agency) be taken without participation of the community and stakeholders keeping in that the situation in the state is very different from that in other parts of the country.”

Accusing the Congress of trying to fool the people ahead of the crucial assembly elections, Kohli said that the step is just a move to somehow pretend with the election being so closed that it is trying to do something and shift the blame of not doing anything.

“Our charge against the Meghalaya government is we have not seen any solution for past three years and we are worried this pretention that a solution is work out on the eve of elections is another excuse to fool the people,” he added.

Referring to the hardships faced by the people due to the ban on coal mining, he said that the people of Meghalaya deserve to have good economic activities and a good environment and most importantly they expect the government to response to both the needs.

“However, a government which is not taking decision, a government which is postponing a problem and sleeping over a problem is not acceptable and the people of the state will not be fooled by this,” he said.

Asked whether his party is assuring the people that within a year, coal mining will be restored in the state, the BJP spokesman said six to eight months is a reasonable time for the party to be clear what the solution is and start moving in that direction.

Stating that three years is a long time for a government to come up with a solution on the matter, he said, “At this pace, if the state government decided to deliver a plan by walking to Delhi, they would have taken less than three years.”By Our Reporter

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