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Thursday, April 18, 2024

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Thursday, April 18, 2024

Brittle irony of mining


Raising a hue and cry over illegal mining is suddenly a prime agenda for the Leader of Opposition, Mukul Sangma, which reminds us that elections are around the corner. For someone who has become a champion of the cause, the situation is particularly ironical because six years ago, Sangma was the front-runner in lobbying against the NGT ban on rat-hole mining. This was despite reports suggesting how rat-hole mining was unscientific and lethal. Moreover, illegal mining was equally rampant back then. Even more ironical is the fact that Sangma’s wife and legislator Dikkanchi D. Shira declared ownership of six mines in the state, which Sangma himself admitted to the Election Commission during the assembly elections in 2013.

His current stance, if not merely a political agenda, seems to suggest that such illegalities have been perpetuated only of late. As a native of Jaintia Hills, there has never been a time that we have not heard of illegal mining happening in the region. It is not much of a political interest as it is of business interest and a lot of silence over the issue is on purpose. It is an open secret. Every opposition likes to use it as a tool to attack the government of the day and this has been happening since the 1990s. In fact, during the MUA government, the Myntdu river and the Lukha river literally became flowing streams of poison due to seepage from mines. Nothing was done about it, despite complaints by the local bodies. The reality is nothing will ever be done about such issues.

There is not much known of what proof Sangma currently has, which he wishes to submit to the government. But such a document will be pointless if the years of Congress rule are missing from it – the period when Sangma was leading the MUA. To that extent, if the proof is so concrete and supposed to be elemental in highlighting wrongdoings of the MDA government, then instead of submitting a report to the perpetrators, he might as well make it public.

Rockiestar G. Shylla, Jowai

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