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National Green Tribunal faces backlash from Meghalaya MP

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SHILLONG, Sept 2: Rajya Sabha MP and NPP Meghalaya unit
president WR Kharlukhi questioned the National Green Tribunal
(NGT) for banning coal mining in Meghalaya but failed to take
action on the Delhi air pollution.
“We have pollution in Delhi. NGT is in Delhi. I have raised a
question: it was not only disease-related, it was death-related. I
am not talking about fish or animals, I am talking about human
beings why nothing was done. Something should be done there
also and NGT is in Delhi,” Kharlukhi told reporters.
Kharlukhi said, “I never say they (NGT and Supreme Court) are
wrong (in banning coal mining in Meghalaya) but what I say is
that yes you are doing here, you should also do it there.”
Stating that it really hurt him to see people suffering due to the
coal ban, the NPP leader said, “This is not the stand of the
government but my stand, coal for us people coming from
Jaintia Hills is our livelihood. It is enshrined as a fundamental
right and denying coal mining for my people from my district

which we have been practising for nearly four decades is like
denying food for our people.”
”I am always for coal mining. You start whatever coal mining
but my people should not starve,” he said.
Kharlukhi informed that he tried to raise the issue in the
Parliament but he could not get a chance despite the issue
being listed two times.
”I was trying to show that if you have done here (coal ban in
Meghalaya) why not do it there (Delhi) also. It doesn’t mean
that we are far away, you can do whatever you like with us,” he
added.
On the direction to start scientific mining of coal, the Rajya
Sabha MP said coal has to be mined and mining should not
stop.
”For 40 years we have been doing this and one fine day you
stopped us. Central government should offer us this is how
much your people are losing take this money that also was not
offered to us. You just stop just because we are far away in the
NE.  It should not be like that,” he said.
On rat hole mining of coal being declared illegal, Kharlukhi
however said, “For 40 years they have been doing this. When
my people were poor nobody realised that. If you look at
uneducated people here they call them coal barons or coal
mafia, they don’t even know the meaning of coal baron or coal
mafia. Did you ever ask why because they could not have an
education at that age. Those same people when they were 9-11
years old in those days may not have bonded labourers but
they were working to feed their families and only when they
were rich then these people started realising.”

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He further claimed that people started dying due to coal
mining after the blanket was imposed. Kharlukhi cited the
incident at Sutnga area, where some boys had risked their lives
by engaging in rat hole mining of coal because they had no
money to feed the people coming for the church presbytery in
their area.
He said that coal mining does not only benefit the rich people
but it is boosting the economy of the state where all sections of
people are benefiting. (NNN)

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