The Meghalaya government is serious about checking the illegal transportation of charcoal in the state, Chief Minister Conrad Sangma said in the assembly on March 22.
For this, the Meghalaya Charcoal (Control of Production, Storage, Trade and Transport) Rules, 2008 has been amended in 2019, he said.
Under the new rules, the producers and stockists of charcoal are required to apply for registration to the Divisional Forest Officer concerned and renewal of such registration can be done after a period of one year with the prior approval of the Principal Chief Conservator of Forests.
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Sangma was replying to a call attention motion moved by United Democratic Party MLA Mayralborn Syiem who referred to a media report on the forest department's unable to check the illegal transportation of charcoal in the northeastern state.
The chief minister said 95 metric tonnes of charcoal has been seized in the past five years and 23 cases have been registered for its illegal production, transport and storage, Sangma said.
The Ferroalloys sector is one of the main consumers of charcoal.
A sum of Rs 2.60 lakh has been realised as compounding fees besides the registration of 23 cases in Ri-Bhoi and West Khasi Hills districts in the past five years, Sangma said.
However, no case relating to the illegal production of charcoal has been detected in either Reserved Forests or Protected Forests in the two districts, he said.
The Meghalaya High Court has directed the state government to deploy 10 companies of the Central Industrial Security Force to check on the illegal coal trade in the 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.
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