Shillong, Sept 1: Rajya Sabha MP and NPP state president WR Kharlukhi today 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.”
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.