Meghalaya High Court orders CISF deployment to check illegal coal transport

March 14, 2023 by MT Bureau

Staff Reporter

Shillong, March 13: The Meghalaya High Court has ordered deployment of 10 companies of central industrial security force (CISF) to check illegal transportation of coal.

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This was after the state had indicated that a sum of Rs 316 crore would be required for construction of quarters and barracks if 100 companies of CRPF are to be deployed in the state.

In its order, the full bench headed by Chief Justice Sanjib Banerjee said, “Instead, it appears to be fair and reasonable to this Court to deploy 10 companies, not of CRPF but of Central Industrial Security Force. That is because, as the Central government duly points out, the CRPF functions under the command of the State police whereas CISF can function independently.”

On a query from the Court, it was submitted on behalf of the Central government that CISF would be able to handle the aspect of checking goods vehicles.

“Considering the total area in the State and that some of the remote pockets do not have roads or even the menace of illegal coal mining and its transportation, 10 companies of CISF should be enough to check the vehicles and completely arrest the illegal transportation of coal,” the Court said.

“While CISF is engaged in checking the vehicles, there is no doubt that it would also check for contraband and ensure that the goods vehicles conform to the weight limits for plying on the State and national highways in Meghalaya,” it added.

The Court also directed Dr Mozika to ascertain the logistics and formalities for 10 companies of CISF to be deployed for the purpose of checking the illegal transportation of coal in the State.

“The process may not last several years as the State proposes to open up scientific mining and grant licenses therefore in accordance with law which may make illegal coal mining an unattractive proposition thereafter,” it said.

Justice Katakey has filed an 11th interim report which the State and the Central government should consider.

The Court further said it was also proposed that upon the 10 CISF companies being made available for the indicated purpose, the key areas which need to be manned and guarded would be decided in consultation with Justice Katakey.

“It is made clear that the deployment of CISF will be on payment basis, subject to negotiation between the State and the Centre,” it stated.

Earlier, the State has prepared a blueprint for the deployment of the Central Reserve Police Force in the State to check the illegal mining of coal and its transportation.

The State’s plan is rather grandiose as it seeks deployment of 100 companies in the eastern range and 60 companies in the western range where one company consists of 135 personnel.

Though the State has indicated in great detail the number of companies to be deployed in the 12 districts, including bifurcating the companies which would be involved in checking vehicles and others which would check the mining activities, the cost implication, even on a short-term, temporary basis, may make it unfeasible.

Indeed, only on account of construction of quarters and barracks, the State has indicated a sum of Rs 316 crore and for requisitioning vehicles an annual expenditure in excess of Rs 58 crore.

At any rate, even if the infrastructure constructed may be put to use by the State upon the CRPF no longer being required, it would take a considerable period to complete the construction and it would be a Herculean task to house 160 companies on a temporary basis.

Indeed, the State’s coal reserves may be exhausted by the time the State’s grand design is put in place.

The next hearing will be held on March 20.