Meghalaya Chief Minister Conrad Sangma will be meeting Prime Minister Narendra Modi on Saturday to discuss the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill, 2016, and the coal issue. Sangma would leave for Delhi on Thursday and his first interaction is scheduled with Home Minister Rajnath Singh on Friday.
"The Home Minister has given us an appointment to meet him on Friday. We are expecting to meet the Prime Minister on Saturday," Sangma, who will be leading a delegation of the ruling Meghalaya Democratic Alliance government, told IANS on Wednesday. "We will express the concerns of the citizens of the state and the Northeastern people as a whole," he said. The Chief Minister said the delegation would discuss several issues including exempting Meghalaya from the purview of the Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Act, 1957, Coal Mines Nationalization Act, 1973, and the National Games 2022.
The Meghalaya cabinet has already passed an official resolution opposing the Citizenship (Amendment) Bill. Sangma said the Coal Ministry has already exempted Meghalaya from Mines and Minerals (Development and Regulation) Act and Coal Mines Nationalisation Act, but the constitutional power to exempt it lies with the Home Ministry. "Therefore, we are meeting the Prime Minister and the Home Minister seeking their intervention on the matter. We will assure them that the state will adhere to the guidelines issued by the Ministry of Environment and the Ministry of Mines and Safety to ensure protection of the environment," he said.
Coal mine accidents that have been rampant in the mountainous state for their unscientific "rat hole mining" habits caused 15 miners getting trapped in a flooded coal mine for over a month now in East Jaintia Hills district. This was despite a National Green Tribunal imposed interim ban on the state since April 2104. Deputy Chief Minister Prestone Tynsong said: "The state government has roped in experts and agencies from various parts of the country to help." The Supreme Court-monitored rescue operation is aimed at taking out the trapped miners "dead or alive".
(With inputs from agencies.)