Meghalaya | Coal continue to be illegally supplied to coke factories: sources
Despite the Supreme Court ban on the mining and transport of coal, illegal transportation of the mineral has been reported from different parts of West Khasi Hills.
The revelation has cost the state's exchequer dearly even as sources informed that transportation of coal allegedly continues to be illegally supplied to more than 20 coke factories in West Khasi Hills’ Shallang area.
Earlier, the industries department of the state had ruled that most of the coke factories operating out of West Khasi Hills (WKH) were doing so without relevant permissions.
"While one expected a crackdown on these illegally set up factories, no concrete action has been seen on the ground," sources said.
There have been reports from Dainadubi in North Garo Hills (NGH), through which more than 30 trucks of coke travel daily.
"The exit point in question informed that there has been no import of coal within the state from other states, which already proves that coal that has been illegally dug up is being used to run these factories," sources said.
Confirmed sources informed that on average, 1.5 MTs of coal is required to produce about 1 MT of coke. A 12 wheeler truck – which is the normal vehicle used for transporting coke – carries a load of close to 30 MTs. Going by these figures at least 45 MTs of coal is used to come up with 30 MTs of coke.
"Taking taxes at Rs 1500 per MT, Rs 67,000 per truck is being lost from just one truck and Rs 20 lakh per day or Rs 6 crore per month for about 30 trucks that move through just the Dainadubi checkpoint," the source said.
Coke is only taxed about Rs 2500 per truck.
Recently, Chief Minister Conrad K Sangma told the Assembly during the recently concluded budget session that 21 coke factories have been detected, out of which only four are legal and 17 are illegal.
Out of the 17 illegal factories, 10 have received the Single Window Clearance and are awaiting environmental clearances while 7 are completely illegal.
Highly placed sources from the state, on the condition of anonymity, said that they are aware of what is taking place but have no power in stopping things as it is.
"The North Garo Hills administration for the matter too has been a silent spectator despite strong complaints being lodged on the illegal acts that take place with regard to coke factories from West Khasi Hills," the source said.
The CM had earlier clarified that the coal being used in the legal coke factories are "legally" transported from coal fields in Assam and West Bengal and even through coal auction by the state government.