Meghalaya to witness transformation in the mining sector

Potential to generate significant sustainable livelihood opportunities along with revenue to the state exchequer

Meghalaya is to witness transformation in the mining sector with the previous approval of the Central Government for the grant of mining lease to 4 applicants.

In April 2014, National Green Tribunal (NGT) imposed a blanket ban on coal mining and transportation in the state of Meghalaya. With this ruling, the mining industry suffered a negative growth of (-) 59.36% according to GSDP at constant prices in 2014-15 thereby affecting the GSDP as a whole, to register a negative growth of (-) 2.82%. The contraction of GSDP came as a big blow to Meghalaya’s ambitions of achieving its revenue collection targets.

Apart from the impact on the economy, the ban severely crippled the lives of thousands of citizens dependent on the mining sector, both directly and indirectly. Many have lost their livelihoods and had to resort to menial jobs, to feed their families.

Taking cognizance of all this, Hon’ble Chief Minister Conrad K Sangma led MDA government has provided the much-needed impetus to revive coal mining in the state. These efforts led to the landmark judgement of the Hon’ble Supreme Court on 3rd July 2019, upholding the rights of the people of Meghalaya over natural resources. This historic judgement has reposed the citizen’s faith in the Indian Judiciary and reflects the Government of Meghalaya’s commitment to protecting the rights, culture, and identity of the indigenous people. The apex court held that private as well as community landowners have both surface rights and sub-surface rights, and minerals are owned by private and community landowners.

In a significant step towards initiating scientific coal mining, under the leadership of Hon’ble Chief Minister Conrad K Sangma, the State Government has availed the approval of the standard operating procedures for obtaining a prospecting license and mining lease for coal in March 2021. Continuing the momentum, the Ministry of Coal, Government of India on 25th April 2023, has provided previous approval for a mining lease to 4 applicants of the 17 prospecting license applicants.

The commencement of scientific mining will be a landmark in the history of Meghalaya, as it ensures minimal environmental impact through sustainable and legally compliant extraction procedures. As part of Scientific Mining, reclamation of coal mining areas and the use of advanced technologies, such as remote sensing, aerial surveys, and 3D modelling, would be prioritised and environmental impact would be mitigated significantly.

The initiation of scientific mining in the state is a significant achievement for the Hon’ble Chief Minister Conrad K Sangma led MDA government, who has led a long relentless effort to provide sustainable livelihood opportunities to the citizens and revenue to the state’s exchequer. The income generated from the mining sector will be invested in the educational and healthcare sector, for the socio-economic prosperity of the state.