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SHILLONG:

The Budget Session of the state assembly beginning on Friday is unlikely to see any discussion on alleged illegal coal mining as the issue is sub judice.

The Opposition in the assembly has been saying it would raise the matter during the session.

Asked about it, Chief Minister Conrad K Sangma on Thursday said it would not be appropriate for him to say anything.

“ I don’t know as it would be incorrect for me to say anything on that as it is sub judice as of now,” he said.

The chief minister also refused to comment on the recent observation of the Meghalaya High Court that the government has not taken any action on the recommendations made the National Green Tribunal.

He, however, maintained that the government is ready to discuss whatever issues are raised by the Opposition except those that are sub judice. “If there is any sub judice matter then we obviously can’t take it up,” Sangma added.

Stating that the Meghalaya Democratic Alliance government is prepared to counter the Opposition in the assembly, the chief minister said, “We always do our homework and whatever issues the Opposition likes to raise, definitely as a responsible government we will reply.”

However, the lone Opposition All India Trinamool Congress (AITC) will vigorously pursue the issue of illegal coal trade during the session.
Leader of Opposition in the House,  Mukul Sangma, that there have been instances when the government had stonewalled discussions.

“It (government) has been on a denial mode but the people of the state know it,” he said.

Sangma said that despite such attempts, the Opposition had always tried to draw the attention of the government.

He also said that whenever there is allegation of illegal coal trade the government clearly acts like the defender or like they are the accused themselves.

Sangma also said that the present government should not presume that they will be in power after 2023.

“I know that they are desperately trying to be in power. They have reasons to be desperate. I think there is none who is more desperate then them to continue to be in power. The desperation is reflected in their openly poaching MLAs and public leaders,” he added.

On the statement of Home minister Lahkmen Rymbui that the state is facing lack of manpower in the police force, Sangma termed it as “childish”.
“There are 300-400 posts which fall vacant every year. How many times have they recruited to fill up the vacancies, we are not talking about creation of new posts, but about the normal vacancies which occur due to retirement or other factors,” he said.

He also reiterated that he will quit politics if the state government can show that there is 32 lakh MT of coal as was submitted to the Supreme Court.

Sangma said that amongst other issues, the AITC will also take up the proposed amendment to the Sixth Schedule to the Constitution of India,  the contentious issue of the Meghalaya-Assam areas of differences and the resolution thereof and  the lack of employment opportunities for the youth.