Shillong: Meghalaya Assembly on Monday passed a resolution seeking Presidential notification exempting the tribal state from the purview of the Government of India’s Mines and Mineral (Development and Regulation) Act, 1957, and Coal Mines (Nationalisation) Act, 1973.
The resolution moved by Chief Minister Mukul Sangma was supported by Leader of Opposition Donkupar Roy and enjoyed a unanimous support of all members of the Opposition bench constituting regional parties and Independent legislators.
Notwithstanding the National Green Tribunal ban on mining and transportation of coal due to the absence of scientific and environmental safeguards to prevent pollution, the Chief Minister said, “It is imperative to resolve the conflict between customary law, practices and rights and the Central statutes.”
He said the state government had notified the Meghalaya Mines and Minerals Policy, 2012, with a view to, inter alia, promote safe, scientific and sustainable development of mineral resources in the state.
According to the Chief Minister, it was while implementing the policy that the customary and traditional practices and rights were discovered to be coming in conflict with the provisions of the two Central Acts.
Arguing that coal mining had been going on from the pre-independence period in accordance with the customary practices, he said, “The Government of India had assured that it had no desire or intention of disturbing the customary tribal rights and causing hardship to them.”
The resolution came just days after the Parliament had passed the Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Amendment Bill, 2015, empowering the concerned state Governments under the Fifth and Sixth Schedule to frame rules relating to mining and mineral development in accordance with Article 244 of the Constitution of the country.
Article 244 governs the administration of Scheduled and Tribal areas excepting Assam, Meghalaya, Tripura and Mizoram as these states fall under the Sixth Schedule of the Constitution.