Meghalaya imposed Rs 153 crore fine on 133 illegal stone miners: Govt to NGT

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New Delhi, Jun 29 (PTI) The Meghalaya government has told the National Green Tribunal that it has imposed fine of Rs 153 crore on 133 illegal stone quarries, crushers and mining units in the state.

'The total number of units against whom environmental compensation has been levied and recoveries under process are 133 in number. That a total amount of Rs 1,53,27,44,063 is payable by the legal and illegal miners...,' the state government told the NGT.

The state government submitted that levy and recovery of compensation are ongoing and are being taken up on utmost priority, and joint teams consisting of representatives of district administration, police, forest and environment department and Meghalaya State Pollution Control Board have been constituted to carry out continuous day-and-night patrolling.

Drones have also been deployed for aerial surveillance as and when required, it said.

'The state government is taking all steps to ensure prompt recovery of the environmental compensation levied by the MSPCB. That during the COVID-19 pandemic, the resources of small states such as Meghalaya are being stressed, however, bona fide efforts have been made and have resulted in substantial controlling of the menace of illegal mining in Ri Bhoi district,' the state government told NGT.

'The state government has acted promptitude and has been proactive in carrying out inspection and sealing unauthorised and illegal mining activities and initiating appropriate prosecutions including measures of recovery for compensation,' it said.

The state government has also not granted any clearance contrary to the applicable law and therefore the contentions raised by the applicant are contrary to the factual position, it said.

The report was filed by the state government in response to a plea filed by Jitul Deka raising the issue of rampant, unauthorised illegal mining in the state of Meghalaya, particularly in Ri-Bhoi District.

The plea filed through advocates Sanjay Upadhyay and Salik Shafique claimed that Deka had submitted representations before various authorities against illegal stone mining in Ri-Bhoi, but no action was taken. PTI PKS SMN SMN

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