Meghalaya not to ban sand mining but regulate it

PTI Shillong | Updated on October 23, 2013

Facing rampant mining in the state, Meghalaya government said on Wednesday said that while sand mining would not be banned, it would put in place regulations and provide alternative options for sustainable livelihood for those involved in the activity.

Meghalaya Chief Minister Mukul Sangma today said, “It is not necessary to ban but what is required is regulation of all these activities.”

Sangma told reporters on the sidelines of a review meeting here, “We need to embark upon a system of engagement with these stakeholders who are engaging in sand and stone quarrying or any other activities as their livelihood and accordingly prevail upon them to take up various other options of livelihood programmes which the departments concerned can provide.”

“Departments concerned have to identify certain areas which can be allowed for sand and stone quarrying and where certain restriction should be imposed,” Sangma said.

The Chief Minister’s statement assumes significance in the wake of sand mining activities across the state where hills are being razed to the ground affecting water sources and the flora and fauna.

An environment group has also expressed concern on the environmental degradation which resulted from illegal mining of minor minerals, including sand and limestone.

“Quarrying might lead to a catastrophe in Meghalaya like Uttarakhand if immediate measures are not implemented to check the menace,” Naba Bhattacharjee, environmentalist and president of Meghalaya People’s Environment Rights Forum (MPERF) said.

The environment group has also demanded punitive action against government officials who connived in the plunder of natural resources of the state, especially in the Jaintia and Garo Hills districts, where large-scale mining of limestone and coal are taking place.

In August, the National Green Tribunal had issued a restraint order against all sand mining activities without environmental clearance.

The decision is also in line with the order of the Supreme Court last year banning any kind of mining of minor minerals and sand without environmental clearance from the Union Ministry for Environment and Forests.

Published on October 23, 2013

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