Meghalaya Chief Minister Conrad Sangma on Friday said banning coal mining is not the solution, even as 15 miners remain trapped inside an illegal flooded coal mine in the state. "Banning coal mining is not really a solution right now. What the correct solution now is to ensure that such activities must be regulated. Environment and safety of miners must be given a priority. The regulation must be such that the economic condition should not be affected," he said in a videotaped statement.
The National Green Tribunal had ordered an interim ban on "rat-hole" coal mining in Meghalaya since April 17, 2014, after the All Dimasa Students' Union and the Dima Hasao District Committee filed an application before the National Green Tribunal alleging that the water of the Kupili river was turning acidic due to coal mining in Jaintia Hills.
Claiming that his government has been working to stop illegal mining activities, Sangma said, "This place where the incident (trapped miners) occurred is about 45 km inside from the main town. It is difficult for the agencies and the police to keep a watch. The best way would be to come out with a regulated.mining, safe mining procedure and allow mining to take place keeping in mind the environmental aspects and safety of miners."
Urging the opposition Congress not to do politics over trapped miners, the Chief Minister said, "This is not a situation that one should play politics. What is important is to continue our efforts towards ensuring that such incidents do not recur."
(With inputs from agencies.)