New Delhi, July 28 (PTI): The National Green Tribunal Tuesday said it cannot approve the recommendation of a committee that Meghalaya coal owners, who are yet to be identified by draw of lots, may transport the coal, saying it was against the verdict of the Supreme Court.
The committee headed by former Gauhati high court judge, Justice B D Agarwal, recommended that the Mining and Geology Department shall allow the coal owners to transport their coal in their respective districts within a period of 15 days from the date of issuance of Transit Pass to the coal owners.
A bench headed by NGT Chairperson Justice A K Goel said the recommendation of the committee which is against the judgment of the Supreme Court cannot be approved.
The green panel said that as per the apex court judgement, it was observed that coal owners had already been identified as per record and that process of handing over coal was to be undertaken by the State.
“The quantum of coal unscientifically mined was mentioned to be 23,25,663.54 metric tonnes. It was held that the said coal be handed over to Coal India Limited for disposal by the State in the manner laid down by the Committee,” the bench said.
The NGT said the State must transport the coal and give the locations and the exercise for identifying landowners beyond the judgement of the Supreme Court is not permissible.
“As regards restoration plan, the remediation plan may be duly executed which may be supervised by the Committee. The steps suggested by the Committee may be taken,” the bench said.
The Committee may continue its functions including that of overseeing the remediation plan and furnish its report of status as on December 31, the bench said.
The NGT had constituted the committee in August 2018 to supervise and look into the issue of environmental restoration plan and other connected matters in Meghalaya.
Last year Supreme Court had paved the way for operationalising of coal mining in Meghalaya under the relevant statutory framework of the Mine and Mineral (Development and Regulation) Act. NGT has banned mining in 2014 in Meghalaya.
The committee was constituted during the hearing of the petition which had sought a ban on coal mining in Meghalaya. It had also taken into account some reports of the state pollution control board.