4 held, Meghalaya minister’s brother accused in illegal coal transportation

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Shillong, March 4: Four persons have been arrested from Meghalaya’s East Jaintia Hills district for allegedly transporting coal to Assam in violation of an NGT order, while four other accused including a state minister’s brother got anticipatory bail, police said on Wednesday.
The National Green Tribunal had banned unscientific and unsafe rat-hole mining of coal in Meghalaya in 2014, though it intermittently allowed transportation of already mined coal.
Meghalaya Revenue Minister Kyrmen Shylla’s brother Bison Shylla and three others got anticipatory bail while four others were arrested in the case, East Jaintia Hills district SP Vivekanand Singh told PTI.
Last week, the matter came to light when police personnel manning Umkiang check post near Assam border had detected 24 coal-laden trucks at Malidor area.
Chief Minister Conrad K Sangma had recently divested his brother James K Sangma of the home portfolio, after the coalition partners of the Meghalaya Democratic Alliance (MDA) government demanded his removal over alleged illegal transportation of coal.
The hazards of rat-hole mining had hogged the headlines in the national media, when 15 miners got trapped in December 2018 in one such mine at Kasan, about 3.7 km deep inside a forest. The mine was inundated when water from the nearby Lytein river gushed into it.
Only two bodies were recovered from the mine.
Rat-hole mining involves digging of narrow tunnels, usually 3-4 feet high, for workers to enter and extract coal.
The horizontal tunnels are often termed “rat-holes”, as each just about fits one person. (PTI)