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Families dependent on minig in Meghalaya unable to get food

Posted on Aug 22 2014 | IANS

Shillong, Aug 22 : An organisation for coal miners and owners has said families dependent on mining have been finding it difficult to get two square meals a day following the National Green Tribunal's ban on mining in Meghalaya.

"Some families are finding it difficult to get two square meals a day in the coal-belt of Meghalaya in view of the NGT's ban on coal mining," said Erwin K. Syiem Sutnga, vice-chairman of Movement for Indigenous People's Rights and Livelihood-Meghalaya (MIPRL-M).

The ban has crippled the lives of 1.5 lakh families who are dependent on coal mining-related activities across the state, he said Thursday.

"The employment opportunity is nil for those people dependent on coal mining and the Meghalaya government itself is deprived of revenue generation in terms of royalty from the mining-related activities," Sutnga said.

On Aug 1, the tribunal upheld its ban on coal mining in Meghalaya, contending that right to life was far more significant than economic interest and the latter cannot be allowed to gain preference.

"There is a deep sense of deprivation in the state and the chief minister (Mukul Sangma) himself has expressed his concern on the NGT's ban. He had even asked the MIPRL-M members to call for a public meeting to discuss the issue," Sutnga said.

Meanwhile, the MIPRL-M has urged the Meghalaya government to roll out a rehabilitation scheme for coal miners and owners and those dependent on mining in order to alleviate the economic sufferings of the people in the coal-belt areas.

The April 17 order came after the All Dimasa Students' Union and the Dima Hasao District Committee filed an application before the tribunal alleging that the water in the Kopili river was turning acidic due to coal mining in Jaintia Hills.

The tribunal will conduct its next hearing here Oct 7 and 8.

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