Meghalaya MP asks Modi to rehabilitate coal miners

Congress MP from Shillong Vincent H. Pala Monday urged Prime Minister Narendra Modi to roll out a rehabilitation scheme for coal mine owners, miners and those dependent on coal mining following the National Green Tribunal's ban on rat-hole coal mining in Meghalaya.

"The centre should provide efficient legal assistance to the state and to the affected parties so that the NGT is halted in its tracks from causing deep social unrest, economic despondency and increase in insurgency activities," Pala said in a letter to Modi.

Terming the NGT's ban "iniquitous and harsh", the Congress Lok Sabha member said the ban was imposed without providing alternative employment or economic engagement for the coal mine owners and labourers.

"The NGT order has affected coal mine owners and labourers. Migrant labourers, who are dependent on coal mining, have been pushed to a state of destitution wherein some have even sold off their children," Pala said.

He also informed Modi that several cement plants in Meghalaya and in neighbouring Bangladesh, which are dependent on coal from the state, have come to a standstill, causing economic blackout.

Meanwhile, Meghalaya Chief Minister Mukul Sangma Monday met Union Home Minister Rajnath Singh and requested the constitution of a boundary commission to "re-examine and re-define" the inter-state boundary between Meghalaya and Assam.

The four-decade-old boundary dispute between Meghalaya and Assam has witnessed a spate of unrest in recent past.

During the meeting, Sangma also urged the home minister to sign a final settlement agreement with the A'chik National Volunteers' Council (ANVC), a rebel outfit operating in the Garo Hills region.

The ANVC has scaled down its demand for a separate Garoland state to the formation of an autonomous council.

The chief minister sought additional funds of Rs.28.8 crore under the Modernisation of Police Forces Scheme for weapons, ammunition, equipment, clothing and communication support for the State Special Forces Unit.