The Meghalaya High Court has directed the state government to deploy 10 companies of Central Industrial Security Force to check on the illegal coal trade in state.
The bench comprising of Chief Justice Sanjib Banerjee, Justices HS Thangkhiew, and W Diengdoh, which was hearing a suo motu PIL regarding illegal coal mining in the state, observed that the government's plan is "grandiose" in that it seeks to deploy 100 companies of the CRPF in the eastern range and 60 companies in the western range. One company employs 135 people.
The court said that it was fair and reasonable to use 10 CISF companies instead of the CRPF because the CRPF is under the command of the state police, while the CISF can work on its own.
The court stated that ten CISF companies should be sufficient to check the vehicles and completely arrest the illegal transportation of coal, given the state's total area, the threat of illegal coal mining and transportation, and the absence of roads in some remote areas.
It stated that in addition to checking vehicles, the CISF can check for contraband and ensure that goods vehicles adhere to weight restrictions.
The central government claimed, in response to a question from the court, that the CISF could handle the goods vehicle inspection aspect.
The court made the following observation: "Though the State has indicated in great detail the number of companies to be deployed in the 12 districts, including bifurcating the companies involved in checking vehicles and others, the cost implication, even on a short-term, temporary basis, may make it unfeasible."
The government reported spending Rs 316 crore on the construction of quarters and barracks as well as more than Rs 58 crore annually on vehicle acquisition.
However, the court stated, "At any rate, even if the infrastructure constructed may be put to use by the state upon the CRPF not being required, it would take a considerable period of time to complete the construction and it would be a Herculean task to temporarily house 160 companies." Indeed, by the time the state's grand plan is implemented, the coal reserves may be depleted.
The court asked Dr. Nitesh Mozika, the Deputy Solicitor General of India, to find out about the logistics and formalities for the 10 CISF companies' deployment.
Also read : Meghalaya: Rampant illegal coal mining in the state in last 5 years, says TMC leader Abhishek Banerjee
Copyright©2023 Living Media India Limited. For reprint rights: Syndications Today