SHILLONG: The Meghalaya High Court, in response to a Public Interest Litigation (PIL), has directed the state government to ensure that illegally-mined coal is not diverted to cement and coke industries within the state.
The court’s full bench, headed by Chief Justice Sanjib Banerjee, passed this order on Wednesday, noting that show-cause notices have been issued to certain cement manufacturing units in the state based on observations made in an interim report by Justice BP Katakey.
Additionally, the court directed the state government to provide an ad hoc remuneration of Rs. 4 lakh to Justice Katakey, in addition to other expenses as previously directed.
The state government, during the court proceedings, assured that it has been providing full support to the Meghalaya Police in addressing the issues related to illegal mining in the state. The government assured the court that a comprehensive report addressing various aspects highlighted in the interim report would be submitted by October 7, 2023.
Earlier on October 3, a report filed by the state government detailed its efforts to address the illegal coal mining issue. The Advocate-General also informed the court that they are in the process of obtaining further information regarding the extent and sources of coal used in ferro-alloy, cement, and coke industries.
Regarding the disposal of previously mined coal, the state government confirmed that it is proceeding as per schedule and pledged to adhere to the timeline submitted to the court.
In another related case (PIL No. 8 of 2022), where allegations were made against Jai Maa Coal Private Limited and individuals in control of the company, the court instructed that an affidavit-in-opposition be filed within three weeks from the current date, followed by an affidavit-in-reply within an additional week.
This will ensure that the matter is prepared for hearing by the adjourned date. The state government has also been tasked with investigating the allegations against Jai Maa and its associates.
The next hearing in this ongoing case has been scheduled for November 15, 2023.