NGOs of Meghalaya written to Mr. Conrad ask to amendment OM to get Mining Lease for coal

Shillong, Nov 16:  Conglomeration of NGos comprising of the HYC, HANM, CORP, JSM, EJNC, sent letter to the Chief Minister of Meghalaya Mr. Conrad K Sangma and Deputy Chief Minister Mr. Prestone Tynsong, urging the State Government  to  Amend the Office Memorandum Dated the 5th March, 2021 relating to the SOPs for grant of Prospecting Licence andor Mining Lease for Coal in the State of Meghalaya.

The conglomeration of NGOs in the letter mention that the Office Memorandum issued by the Commissioner and  Secretary to the Government of Meghalaya, Mining and Geology Department, in Chapter I, Clause D (Checklist), Para 6 of the SOPs, there is a clause where the land owner and the Applicant only need to sign an Agreement for the purpose of applying for a prospecting licence or mining lease.

The NGOs are of the opinion that this Clause should be amended so as to allow only tribals to make an Agreement between themselves and no-nontribal should be allowed to enter into an Agreement for Coal Mining with the tribal land owner for applying licence, 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.

Further, this Clause will also leads into legalisation of Benami activities in Coal Mining sector as it provides a space for people to practice benami activities. Hence, it is needed to be amended as suggested above.

That, in Chapter I, Clause E (Miscellaneous) Point 6 and in Chapter II Clause E (Miscellaneous) Point 15 there is a Clause where Application for a prospective Licence shall be for an area of not less than 100 hectares.

This is totally unacceptable as only very few  tribal land owners who will have possession/ownership over of so much area of land and thus other land owners who  have less area of land, will be deprived of earning livelihood through coal mining.

This Clause will further allow/encourage the big companies and bigwigs to acquired huge chunk of land and further monopolised the Coal business and whereas small miners will not be in a position to take part in this mining business of coal. This will further creates wealth disparity or imbalance distribution of wealth which will affect the inclusive growth of our people.

Further, we are of the opinion that this Clause is unrealistic in the sense that keeping in mind the geographical nature of our Hills and also the fact that there are multi-layer ownership of land and to be able to get the required area of more than 100 hectares, is next to impossible.

Furthermore, as per Rule 22D of the Mineral Concession Rules, 1960 (as amended) issued by the Controller General, Indian Bureau of Mines, Nagpur, it is specified that the minimum area for grant of mining Lease  in respect of minerals shall be of not less than Four hectares.

Then on what basis the State Government came up with the above-stated SOPs to provide that for granting of Mining Lease in respect of Coal, minimum requirement of Land is not less than 100 hectares.

Therefore, we demand that this Clause should be amended to suit the local situation and we suggest that perhaps mining lease maybe granted to a smaller area than what is notified. The NGOs they have hope that the Chief Minister and will address the demands raised by us and will  take necessary steps accordingly.

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