A court-appointed committee headed by Justice (retd) BP Katakey had raised serious questions about 13 lakh metric tons of coal that vanished after extraction prior to the ban on rat hole mining. A probe into this matter can shed more light on who is responsible for its disappearance, a case that has been shrouded in mystery and speculation. According to government affidavits, 32 lakh metric tons were extracted, but only 19 remained when the transportation process following the auction was supervised under Katakey’s guidance, raising questions about what happened to the missing amount. The news comes as a shock even though both state governments remain tight-lipped over it, leaving citizens concerned about this unsolved mystery amid a lack of clarity from authorities regarding action taken against those involved.
In a shocking discovery, the initial statement of 32 lakh metric tons of coal made by government officials is now in doubt. Through verification by the deputy commissioners, it was found that there are only 19 lakh metric tons available – either this figure stated previously was false or unaccounted for goods have gone missing after being declared present initially. In order to put these queries to rest and ascertain where the difference lies, drone surveys are being undertaken, with results expected soon thereby bringing clarity on whether illegal mining had taken place despite NGT bans.
“For the best reasons known to the people in government and also to the chief minister, who is holding the portfolio of mining and geology, they have not done anything to facilitate this whole resumption of mining or rather starting of mining in conformity with various statutory laws,” say Dr Mukul Sangma.
He alleged that the MDA government, instead of going all out based on the promises they made, did not want to see legal mining.
This requires a proper investigation against the backdrop of alleged irregularities and illegal coal mining taking place across the state, including unlawful transportation at the cost of the interests of the state and the people.
“Therefore, it requires an investigation, which is what we have all along been demanding.” Has the state government been responsive? “No, the state government was always in denial mode,” he explained.
Stating that the Meghalaya High Court has also taken cognizance of the matter and pulled up the state government, Mukul said the reasons for this are known to the people of the state.
He said that many people have been expressing their concerns and have tried to draw the attention of the government and the authorities, but they have not succeeded in doing so because the government has been very meticulously ensuring that whatever narratives about coal mining are not based on facts but are just the opposite.
He said that there were still clear examples of illegal mining and that such egregious mining on such a large scale could not happen unless it were allowed by the government.
The High Court has noted this and, in some of its orders, said that some of the officers in some of the districts should be charged with contempt.
“These are glaring reflections of what is happening under the complete patronage of the government, and that is a serious violation, or rather a serious breach, of the trust and confidence of the people of the state who have given them the mandate during the elections,” he added.
Further, the former chief minister has referred to the promise made by the NPP and its alliance partners to ensure immediate resumption of coal mining as a “blatant lie”.
He also recalled how the MDA partners went to the people and created the momentum of narratives pertaining to coal mining that the moment they are able to form the government, mining will start immediately.
Mukul, however, said he is not surprised because they themselves have clearly told about their usual election strategy which is “telling people lies to get votes.
He said assurance was made by none other than Deputy Chief Minister Prestone Tynsong of the MDA government and who is also the national vice president of the NPP.
He said what the then Congress government under his leadership told the people was the correct thing.
“We also suggested that yes as per what is required in the statutory laws, the mining plans have to be made by the landowners, who also have the right over the minerals under the surface of the land that they own based on our customary laws and practices, which were not understood by NGT initially and also by the concerned ministries. “So from our side, we made it abundantly clear in telling the story that the owners of the land also have ownership over the minerals that are under the surface of the land,” he said, adding that this was upheld by the July 3, 2019 judgment of the Supreme Court pertaining to coal mining in Meghalaya.
To a question, the leader of opposition said that the people in authority should be pulled up for their deliberate failure to protect the interest of the state by allowing illegal coal mining.
He has also alleged that illegal coal mining money is being used to fund new insurgent groups in his state. He further suggested that particular people are leveraging their vested interests to establish militant outfits with funds from illicit activities such as these. He has accused the state government of ‘insincerity’ and a stance of “deliberate denial” over illegal coal mining in the region. He went on to claim that he possessed video evidence that proved his allegations to be true. According to Mr. Sangma, despite efforts by both opposition parties and individuals to draw attention to this issue, illegal activities such as coal mining and transportation continue within Meghalaya’s borders without consequence or fear of prosecution.
The ruling opposition questions the role of the NPP-led MDA government in a number of scams that have happened since they took power in 2018. The BJP is at the heart of those accused of involvement—why have they decided to take a stand now, when complicity and silence have been evident for years? Adding fuel to this fiery debate are claims made by the Home Minister, Mr. Amit Shah, who alleges corruption within all levels of state governments; an allegation that wildly overlooks his party’s involvement throughout these nefarious incidences, thereby highlighting an alarming level of hypocrisy from him and others alike who were complicit during the period.
The opposition recently made a shocking accusation against the NPP-led MDA government and pointed out their long list of scams. The BJP was accused of working with them in all dealings but remaining silent, raising the question of why they were only now speaking out against corruption. It’s clear that Mr. Amit Shah is trying to shift attention away from his party’s involvement by pointing fingers at everyone else instead. An array of scandals have been brought forward related to smart meters, the rice scam, or the police vehicle scandal, leaving no doubt about how far the rot had spread within this administration since its formation back in 2018.
“There is a long list of scams perpetrated by the NPP-led MDA government, of which the BJP is a part and where BJP leaders were ministers.” Were they only watching the scams sit idle? “They were the ones who formed the government in 2018, and ever since then, they have been hands-in-glove with the government in every scam, why did they keep quiet?”, he further questioned.
The Meghalaya Chief Minister, Conrad Sangma is facing allegations of involvement in a large-scale land scam and an illegal coal racket. Dr. Mukul Sangma, leader of the Trinamool Congress has accused the ruling government of purchasing 807 acres from Mawkhanu village at an excessively inflated rate, amounting to a discrepancy of Rs 140 crore between their actual payment and what should have been paid according to the set market price per square foot. The public eagerly awaits official clarification on this matter from Mr. Sangma’s office in the hopes that justice will be served soon enough!
Dr. Mukul Sangma alleged that the current ruling Meghalaya Democratic Alliance (MDA) government has been involved in a twofold conspiracy to deprive its people of hard earned money by developing land at throwaway prices and then transferring it back for exorbitant compensation through a middleman. The three persons implicated include Chief Minister Conrad Songma, Revenue Minister Kyrmen Shylla, Urban Affairs Minister Sniawbhalang Dhar who have all been accused as being part of this fraudulent activity – making millions out of what appears to be blatant theft from their own citizens.
“On October 4, 2021, the cabinet decided on the rates.” The Minister for Urban Affairs piloted this proposal, which was appropriately approved by the Department of Revenue. All cabinet items are approved by the Chief Minister. “Therefore, the documents show that the three persons – the Chief Minister, Revenue Minister, and Urban Affairs Minister—have entered into a criminal conspiracy to rob the State of such a huge amount of money—Rs 140 crore—which could have been given to the innocent land owners,” Dr. Sangma had said.
Speaking out against corruption for years, Dr. Mukul Sangma recently expressed his frustration at the lack of action taken by PMO despite continuously raising awareness about wrongdoings in their state’s MDA coalition government.
Similarly, in another serious revelation, a coal trader, John Frankie Rymbai had yesterday alleged that illegal transportation of coal in Meghalaya was carried out with the full knowledge of Chief Minister Conrad Sangma, who also holds the Mining and Geology Department, along with a “close aide of Sangma”, then Transport Minister Sniawbhalang Dhar and his successor, Dasakhiat Lamare.
Rymbai told the media that a close aide of a cabinet minister and Khliehriat MLA Kyrmen Shylla, as well as the current Transport Minister Dasakhiat Lamare and the police, are helping to set up the illegal transport of coal from Jaintia Hills. They are also helping to make sure that illegal coal transport without a challan goes smoothly.
“These three departments are working hand in glove to loot the State revenue especially in the last three years from 2020,” Rymbai said.
He also said that the illegal coal transportation from West Khasi Hills to Assam via Garo Hills and via Ri-Bhoi was being assisted by Mawshynrut MLA Gigur Myrthong who is also the adviser to the Chief Minister.
“The successful bidder of the auctioned coal all over Meghalaya is equally accountable for the nexus with the government to manipulate the system to be corrupted with the blessing of the government and political thieves,” Rymbai said.
“The government does not want to implement the mining policy because they want to profit from this massive coal racket,” he continued.
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