Monday, November 28, 2022

‘Only tribals from Meghalayacan obtain coal mining licenses’

Correspondent

Five pressure groups in Meghalaya on Wednesday demanded that the government should allow only tribals from the state to obtain coal mining licenses and also allow miners with small landholdings to get such mining licenses.
In a letter to Chief Minister Conrad Sangma, the group comprising of Hynñiewtrep Youths’ Council (HYC), Hynñiewtrep Achik National Movement (HANM), East Jaintia National Council (EJNC), Jaintia Students Movement (JSM) and the Confederation of Ri Bhoi People (CoRP) demanded to amend the Office Memorandum dated March 5, 2021 relating to the SOPs for grant of Prospecting Licence and/or Mining Lease for Coal in Meghalaya. As per the office memorandum issued by the Commissioner and Secretary, Mining and Geology department, land owners and applicants only need to sign an agreement to obtain a prospecting license and mining lease, they said.
“We are of the opinion that this clause should be amended so as to allow only tribals to make an agreement between themselves and no non-tribal should be allowed to enter into an agreement for coal mining, which we feel is in line with the customary land tenure system in the State and also in line with the Meghalaya Transfer of Land Regulation Act,” HYC President, Robertjune Kharjahrin said, adding that this clause will also lead to benami activities in the coal mining sector.
He further pointed out that in another clause it’s mentioned that application for a prospective license shall be for an area of not less than 100 hectares.
Kharjahrin said his particular clause is “totally unacceptable” as only very few tribal land owners have possession or ownership over such a vast tract of land.
“This clause will further allow and encourage big companies and bigwigs to acquire huge chunks of land and further monopolise the coal business. Small miners will not be in a position to take part. This will create wealth disparity and affect the inclusive growth of our people,” he added.
Stating that Rule 22 D of the Mineral Concession Rules, 1960 of the Indian Bureau of Mines specifying a minimum area of not less than four hectares for grant of mining lease, Kharjahrin asked, “why the state government has increased the minimum requirement of land in Meghalaya.”
“We demand that these clauses should be amended to suit the local situation and we suggest that perhaps mining lease may be granted to a smaller area than what is notified,” he demanded.

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