Court Rejects Meghalaya’s “Grandiose” Plan To Tackle Illegal Coal Mining

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The Meghalaya High Court on Wednesday ordered the state government to modify its “rather grandiose plan” to deploy 21,600 CRPF personnel to check illegal coal mining in 12 districts.
A three-member bench of Chief Justice Sanjib Banerjee and Justices S Thangkhiew and W Diengdoh observed that instead of the proposed 160 companies of CRPF, which will be under the state government, ten companies of CISF, which can work independently, will be enough to check illegal mining in the state.

“The state has prepared what is called a blueprint for the deployment of the Central Reserve Police Force in the state to check the illegal mining of coal and its transportation. The state’s plan is rather grandiose as it seeks the deployment of 100 companies in the eastern range and 60 companies in the western range where one company consists of 135 personnel,” the court order read.

“The state has indicated a sum of ₹ 316 crore and for requisitioning vehicles an annual expenditure in excess of ₹ 58 crore. The state’s coal reserves may be exhausted by the time its grand design is put in place,” the bench order stated.

“Considering the total area in the state… 10 companies of CISF should be enough to check vehicles and completely arrest the illegal transportation of coal.”

“While CISF is engaged in checking vehicles, there is no doubt that it would also check for contraband and ensure that the goods vehicles conform to the weight limits for plying on the state and national highways in Meghalaya,” the order stated.

The bench added that the key areas that need to be manned and guarded would be decided in consultation with Justice (retd) BP Katakey, who has been tasked by this court for overseeing and ensuring the disposal of previously mined coal and to take steps to check illegal mining in the state.

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