Deputy Chief Minister Prestone Tynsong on Monday said the cement factories are not permitted to buy coal from the state as the NGT ban on mining and transportation activities is still in operation in the state.
“Right now, they (cement plants) cannot buy coal from them as the ban is still there,” Tynsong told reporters.
He was reacting to the recent decision of eight persons including former MLA and three ex-MDCs from East Jaintia Hills District to resign from the ruling National People’s Party (NPP) as a mark of protesting against the government’s decision to allow transportation of coal from outside the states.
Terming such leaders as “narrow minded”, Tynsong said that they first need to understand the reality before drawing any conclusion on the issue.
He informed that the government has decided to allow 50 percent strength of the cement companies to operate in the state.
“However, after closing down not less than two months, immediately opening up without raw material is not possible. That is why even from the government side, only those cement companies who submitted the requirement of raw materials to bring from outside the state with the number of trucks and quantity, we already told them this is temporary. On the basis of that we allow,” he added.
Tynsong also said that the reply to their question as to why not allow the cement plants to buy the coal from East Jaintia Hills is so simply and that is “NGT ban is still there”.
Regarding the 32 lakh metric tons of coal approved by the Supreme Court in its judgement passed last year, the deputy CM said the matter has been entrusted to the Coal India Limited, which has just completed the formalities which led to the NGT panel to approve auctioning and transportation of 2 lakh metric tons.
“This process is still on.That is why, once this 2 lakh MT of coal is allowed for transportation, then it is natural for these cement companies certainly they will buy from them. If they insist that they take from Jaintia Hills but the formalities for the 2 lakh Mt of coal are yet to be finalized as this has to go in the form of auction. Therefore, they need to understand the position of the government. We are also tight and they are also tight but once this auction process is completed, may be from EJH 1 lakh or 50,000 MT is there, they can easily supply,” he stated.
Tynsong further informed that all these years, there has been no coal from outside the state as far as consumption in the cement factories, as it has been supplied by the local people.
“But this time we do have this problem and challenges and even the owners of the cement plants they requested us that if you say we have to open or we have to start our operation then you need to allow us to bring trucks inside the factories,” he added.
Allaying the fear that such truck drivers from outside may be carriers of COVID-19, the deputy CM said strict protocols are already in place adding that the cement plants have already installed sanitizer machines in their respective factories.