“It is easy to see why coal interests in Meghalaya are so threatened by people like Agnes Kharshiing. They murdered P.N. Marbaniang, a policeman, simply for doing his job— how much more terrifying must it be to be confronted with someone with such a blazing sense of duty and such persistence? RTI activism is, by definition, a plodding enterprise. One soon learns the truth of the saying that the devil lies with the details, especially when the chasm between the law and the reality is so gaping it appears to be an abyss. The ladder across it is constructed laboriously, one patient enquiry after the next. The citizens’ report was built out of a dozen RTI petitions, filed by different people in different times and places and for different reasons. It was stitched together to offer the Supreme Court a complete account of the dilemma before it. In some ways, the court abdicated its responsibility when it ordered the state government to begin enforcing laws it has ignored for fifty years. This simplistic resolution prolonged the open season on mining that has prevailed since the original “ban,” and it has pushed the coal economy even further into the shadows.”
In the past, interactions between the land and the sea in the southern part had initiated continental and marine deposition, creating mineral resources. Among them, coal and limestone occur in an east-west direction in Meghalaya’s south, and the coal has a high sulphur content. This is because, unlike most of the coal in India, which is deposited in the large basins of the Permo-Carboniferous age (299 to 359 million years ago), Meghalayan coal was formed in lagoons much later (50 to 33 million years ago). As a result, the coal seams are lensoidal: thick in the middle but pinching out laterally, and with a scattered distribution. And because of these reasons, it is not possible to use the same mining plan that engineers use to mine coal in other parts of the country. In other words, and professionally speaking, Meghalayan coal is not a mineable asset.
Is it really unthinkable that this state’s indigenous people could earn their ja pliang from climate mitigation, adopting decentralised renewable energy, rather than through their copious contribution to climate change? Could there be a future for Meghalaya where Poipynhun, Agnes and Amita are not the going price for coal?
What’s ‘Coking’, Mr. Conrad Sangma?
Will Mr. Conrad Sangma speak up? Will he clarify how the haphazard establishment of multiple coke plants determine a more “liveable place?” Will he explain his double-tongue approach towards environmental policies of the state? Because his outward soft-speaking self seemingly hides his mischievous agenda. Or will he emulate Prime Minister Narendra Modi who doesn’t address hard-hitting questions? If he doesn’t address this issue then I will lend voice to more questions hovering around Meghalaya’s polluted air such as unabated limestone mining, remorseless timber smuggling to dubious factories, issuing of deceitful transport permits, and others that warrant an explanation from the horse’s mouth.