The Meghalaya government Tuesday ordered implementation of the Supreme Court order banning transportation of coal with immediate effect, officials said.
Chief Secretary Y Tsering issued the order directing authorities to ensure compliance of the directions of the Supreme Court without fail, they said.
The apex court banned the transportation of coal in the state forthwith until the next hearing on February 19, refusing a plea by the miners to send extracted coal left to transport since the 2014 National Green Tribunal ban on mining.
In pursuance of the directions of the Supreme Court in its sitting Tuesday as communicated by the learned advocate general, transportation of coal in the state of Meghalaya is hereby stopped with immediate effect, Tsering said in his order.
The ban comes a week after a citizens forum in Meghalaya, in which RTI activists Agnes Kharshiing was part of, demanded the Supreme Court to issue a complete ban on coal mining/transportation in the state citing that there has been absolute loss in terms of revenue from the industry and that all indices in the mining district are down with 76 per cent of people landless.
The forum alleged collusions between the state government and the illegal coal miners wherein the courts and the NGT were misled on several occasions on the total amount of extracted coal waiting to be transported.
The Supreme Court has also rapped the Meghalaya government for failing to curb illegal mining and has asked it to file an affidavit.
Former chief minister and Leader of Opposition Mukul Sangma hit out at the state government and said the leadership do not have the moral rights to continue to be in office.
This (SC order) shows that for the first time, the court no longer trusts the state government and the leadership has to be held responsible. With this exposure, the leadership does not have the moral and legal rights to continue in office, Mukul said.
Meanwhile, on Tuesday, the Indian Navy carried on with the underwater exploration at the main shaft in search of the miners for 15 hours without any results, operation spokesperson R Susngi told PTI.
He said the Kirloskar Brothers Ltd (KBL) pumps did not dewater the main shaft in view of the Navy underwater exploration.
Coal India Ltd and Odisha Fire Services on the other hand, ran their pumps in nearby abandoned shafts in search of any signs of the miners, Susngi said.
Scientists from Hyderabad and Chennai are surveying the strata of the coal seams and the rocks formation in the area, he said.
As the operations entered its 32nd day Tuesday, the Sound Navigation and Ranging (SONAR), which uses sound propagation to navigate, communicate or detect objects underwater, is expected to arrive at the site anytime soon.
The machines will be used to map the rat holes criss-crossing underneath the earth’s crust in the area.