New Delhi: The Supreme Court (SC) directed the Meghalaya state government on Wednesday to deposit a fine of Rs 100 crore imposed on it by the National Green Tribunal (NGT) with the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB). The fine was imposed on the state for failing to curb rampant illegal coal mining in the aftermath of the death of 15 miners in December last year.
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Illegally extracted coal to be handed over to Coal India
A bench of Justices Ashok Bhushan and KM Joseph also told the state administration to hand over the illegally extracted coal to Coal India Limited (CIL), which will auction it and transfer the funds to the state government.
The bench, however, allowed the state to carry on mining operations on privately-held and community-owned land, subject to permissions from the concerned authorities. The Supreme Court had earlier refused to allow miners to transport extracted coal lying at various sites in Meghalaya.
The fine had been imposed by the National Green Tribunal (NGT) on the Meghalaya state government on January 4. During the hearing, the state government had admitted that a large number of coal mines were being operated illegally in the northeastern state.
On December 13 last year, a total of 15 miners were trapped in an illegal coal mine at Ksan in East Jaintia Hills district of Meghalaya, when water from the nearby Lytein river gushed into it. Despite a long-drawn rescue operation, only two bodies have been recovered so far.