The National Green Tribunal on Thursday pulled up the Ministry of Environment and Forest, asking why they were not preparing the report on the mining plan in Meghalaya and instead seeking opinion of an expert body.
“Is this a joke? You (MoEF) are the regulatory authority and you do nothing. You just seek reports from experts. We do not understand why you do not do this yourself. Do not use our orders for escaping from responsibility,” a bench headed by NGT Chairperson Justice Swatanter Kumar said.
“Why cannot you do it yourself? For every small thing you need a consultant,” the bench said and directed the ministry to inform it about the mining policy and plan.
The bench observed this after the counsel appearing for MoEF said the ministry has sought the opinion of an expert body which carries out research and development programme in environmental science and technology.
The tribunal directed the MoEF, Ministry of Coal and the Meghalaya government to hold a meeting to finalise the mining plan and submit a report before it.
It observed that entire mining projects in Meghalaya were at a “stand still”, which have serious consequences on the environment as well as economy of the state. The green panel had earlier said that no extracted coal would be allowed to be transported from Meghalaya after May 15 when the state government will take it over and will be free to sell or auction it.
The bench, which fixed the matter for further hearing on August 30, asked the Meghalaya government to file a report as to how they are planning to dispose of the extracted coal.
On December 23 last year, the green panel had extended the time for transportation of extracted coal in Meghalaya till May 15 and fixed February 15 as the last date for payment of royalty, after the state government had said if the extracted coal is not transported before the rainy reason, it may cause pollution in rivers.