Meghalaya Current Affairs - 2019

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Meghalaya becomes 1st state to ensure Water Conservation

Meghalaya became 1st state in India to ensure conservation of water and have its own State Water Policy. This move comes following a nod given by State Cabinet for the purpose.

Key Highlights

The draft policy was approved by Meghalaya’s State Cabinet in a meeting chaired by state’s Chief Minister Conrad K. Sangma.

Amid water crisis in country, this draft water policy of Meghalaya would work towards addressing water issues, conservation, and protection of water sources in state.

About ‘State Water Policy’ of Meghalaya

Objective:

  • To recognize water resources as a common pool resource (CPR) as these are susceptible to overuse
  • To provide safe and hygienic water for drinking, domestic needs and sanitation
  • Livelihood development to all residents of state

Community Participation: Among other things, draft State Water Policy of Meghalaya seeks to protect and improve management of water resources while actively involving community participation.

Mandate:

Policy intends to achieve sustainable development, management and use of water resources with help of community participation. This will help improve health and livelihood as well as reduce vulnerability among people.

At village level committees will be formed and issue of groundwater will also be catered by this policy. Also, state department will also monitor quality of the water to check if it has a high Iron content or if it’s acidic.

Protecting Catchment Areas: Policy also seeks to ensure protection and conservation of catchment areas of all water sources in state so as to prevent degradation of quantity and quality of water sources. It also outlines issue of river pollution.

Implementation: For the purpose of implementation of the policy via active participation of the community a Water Sanitation Village Council at the village level would be constituted.

Significance:

This policy would go long way in changing mindset of people and proper utilization of water.

It will also assure of good governance for present and future generations via Integrated Water Resources Management and Environmental Sustainability

Month: Categories: Environment & Biodiversity

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Illegal Coal Mining in Meghalaya: SC directs State Govt to deposit fine

Supreme Court of India has directed Meghalaya state government to deposit Rs.100 crore fine imposed on it by National Green Tribunal (NGT) for failing to curb illegal coal mining with Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB).

Key Highlights of Judgement

A SC bench of Justice Ashok Bhushan and Justice K M Joseph has directed state administration to hand over illegally extracted coal to Coal India Limited (CIL) which will auction it and deposit the funds with state government.

SC upheld that as per statutory regime brought in force by notification of 15 January 2016 issued under Environment (Protection) Act (EPA) 1986, environmental clearance was required for a project of coal for mining of any extent of area.

SC bench also acknowledged that since Meghalaya has very limited sources of revenue and it allowed it to transfer Rs.100 crore to CPCB would be used for restoration work from Environment Protection and Restoration Fund (EPRF).

Evidence: Allegations of environmental degradation by illegal and unregulated coal mining has taken place in Meghalaya were fully proved from report of Meghalaya State Pollution Control Board, report of committee headed by former High Court Judge B P Katakey (or Katakey Committee), and report of experts, which all proved environmental degradation of water, air and surface.

Coal lying in Open: SC clarified that all extracted coal as assessed by Meghalaya government lying in different districts which as per order of NGT is in custody of state shall be handed over to Coal India Ltd. (CIL) for proper disposal. Katakey Committee after discussion with CIL and Meghalaya shall formulate a mechanism for transport, weighment of all assessed coal. The apex court had earlier refused to allow miners to transport extracted coal lying at various sites in Meghalaya.

Allowed Sites: SC bench has allowed mining operation to go on in Hills districts of Meghalaya on either privately or community owned land, but it is subjected to lease or required permissions from concerned authorities.

Background

On 13 December 2018, total of 15 miners were trapped in an illegal coal mine in East Jaintia Hills district of Meghalaya, about 3.7 km deep inside a forest, when water from nearby Lytein river gushed into it. So far only two bodies have been recovered from mine.

Month: Categories: Constitution & Law

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