Regional

Hundreds protest against import of coal from Assam

Correspondent Shillong, May 12 | Publish Date: 5/13/2020 8:48:04 AM IST

Defying the nation-wide lockdown, hundreds of people on Wednesday took to the streets in Meghalaya’s East Jaintia Hills district to protest against the State government’s decision to import coal from Assam to feed the cement plants.

However, Chief Minister Conrad Sangma maintained that the decision of the State government to allow transportation of coal from outside was due to a “matter of legality”.

Over a dozen of pressure groups including coal miners and dealers association and traditional institutions said that they were forced to take to the streets at Lad Jaliyiah area after the government refused to withdraw its order of allowing transportation of coal from Assam.  “We were forced to take to the streets to protest against the government’s decision to allow transportation of coal from Assam in view of the COVID-19 pandemic,” Synjuk Waheh Shnong, East Jaintia Hills District, Satly Ryngkhlem said. He said that the traditional institution, pressure groups and coal miners and dealers association in the district has given four days ultimatum to the Meghalaya government to reverse its order while threatening to defy the COVID-19 induced lockdown.

 “If the government fails to comply with our demand, we have no other option to cooperate with it to fight against the COVID-19 pandemic in the State,” Ryngkhlem said.

Maintaining that the government’s decision to allow transportation of coal from outside was due to a “matter of legality”, Chief Minister Sangma  said, that the government is trying to resolve it even as he appealed to the stakeholders in East Jaintia Hills district to understand the current situation.  “Their concerns and emotions are there. The fact that the coal is coming from outside, we have our limitations because of the legal challenges that we face,” Sangma told reporters.

Sangma informed that at this point, the government is trying to resolve the issue even as he appealed to the stakeholders in East Jaintia Hills to understand the current situation.

On the 2 lakh metric ton identified by the Coal India Limited  for auctioning, the Chief Minister said that he had a discussion with the Coal Minister, Piyush Goyal around 10 days back and also wrote a letter to him.

 “After his intervention, the permission was given (for auctioning) and now it is in process and I hope very soon, maybe I should say a week or ten days time,  necessary expressions will be floated,” Sangma said.

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