The National Green Tribunal (NGT) constituted committee has asked the Meghalaya government to take up a pilot project for preparing a comprehensive ecological restoration plan for coal mine areas in the state.
The committee would be headed by the Secretary of Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change (MoEFCC).
Informing this while replying in the Assembly, Chief Minister Mukul Sangma said the committee was constituted after the state government had submitted the Mining Plan/Guidelines to the NGT on January 1.
He said the state government has also submitted its comments and status on the matter before the committee headed by MoEFCC Secretary in its first meeting held on May 4.
The meeting decided that the National Environmental Engineering Research Institute (NEERI) would be conducting site visit during May 30 to June 31 and submit the report to the committee.
In its order issued on July 21, the NGT has directed the MoEFCC, Ministry of Coal and the state government to hold a meeting to finalise the mining plan and policy including the scheme for restoration of environment and ecology, he said.
Stating that the second meeting of the committee was held on August 30, the CM said “It has recommended the state government to carry out a pilot study of a cluster of rat-hole mines in Jaintia Hills taking them on watershed basis for treatment and ecological restoration in the background of their findings and to use the learnings from preparing a comprehensive ecological restoration plan for the entire mine area.”
As a follow up action of the NGT’s direction, Sangma said the suggestions of NEERI regarding ‘sealing of abandoned’ rat-hole mines by engineering interventions was asked to be examined by the state in consultation with reputed mining/geotechnical institute for an appropriate decision considering the magnitude and extent of the problem as well as feasibility.
On the other hand, the Meghalaya State Pollution Control Board would carry out regular monitoring of surface and ground water pollution, he said.
A detailed note in this regard along with the long term data shall be submitted to the NEERI to arrive at the trend analysis and suggest adequate mitigation measures, he said while quoting the tribunal committee’s recommendations.
The MoEFCC has filed a compliance affidavit before the National Green Tribunal on September 9, he added.