This Article is From Jan 13, 2015

Rat-Hole Coal Mining Ban in Meghalaya Hits Bangladesh

Shillong: Coal-dependent industries in neighbouring Bangladesh have been badly affected in view of the ongoing ban imposed by a green tribunal on unscientific rat-hole coal mining in Meghalaya, officials said in Shillong.

Bangladesh officials confirmed this at the first-ever bilateral meeting of the deputy commissioners/district magistrates of Meghalaya (India) and Bangladesh held in the state capital in Shillong.

Speaking to reporters on the sidelines of the meeting, Deputy Commissioner of Kurigram district of Bangladesh ABM Azad said, "We are badly suffering due to ban on coal as most of our brick kilns (industries) depend on coal from India."

Meghalaya exports tonnes of coal to Bangladesh via its 11 land custom stations.

Informing that the issue also figured at the meeting, he said, "We have discussed this issue in our meeting on how to solve this problem and requested the Union government to make things easier so that coal can be imported easily in our border areas."

According to him, thousands of brick kilns is operating in Bangladesh but however could not provide specific figure.

"It is almost 60 per cent of coal we need for the production of bricks," he said while admitting that if coal is not available in future, the industries may face closure.

The National Green Tribunal (NGT) has imposed an interim ban on coal mining in Meghalaya since April 17 last year and but has allowed transportation of the extracted and assessed coal from September 1, 2014.

The volume of coal that is being exported annually to Bangladesh from these Land Custom Stations (LCS) comes around 5,000 to 6,000 metric tonnes annually, a custom official informed.

The volume of coal export from the LCS under Borsora and Cheragoan is approximately Rs 3295 crore while Rs 179 crore of coal is exported from Ghasuapara land custom station during 2012-13, the official said.

The estimated reserve of coal in the state is about 576.48 million tonnes.