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Umkhrah : what has thou to tell? 

Dondor Giri Nongkhlaw
Geomorphologist

 Lately Umkhrah river has been a burning topic of discussion because of its dreadful conditions, it really is a topic of grave concern, environmentally in terms of pollution, culturally and spatially in terms of unplanned proliferation of settlements on its banks. It is a river that people have praised, that poetry have been composed and songs sung and as people have come so people have gone its name would be etched forever in the geographical landscape of the Shillong Plateau as long as it flows whether clean or dirty. 

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National green tribunal

steps over vague policies

Sumar Sing Sawian

The Lukha River in Jaintia Hills, near the border with Bangladesh, runs Gatorade blue due to sulphate pollution from Meghalaya’s coal mines.The state government is now in a quandary, as how to wriggle out, over the total ban of haphazard and wanton mining of coal in the state, which was imposed by the National Green Tribunal since April 17 in the year 2014. Because of the indifferent and callous attitude of the government, which had allowed for so long the primitive method of coal mining, the government has to now to bite the dust. Since the inception of Meghalaya, forty years ago, the state is now facing an annual revenue loss of rupees six hundred crores. The government had allowed the coal barons to rule the roost, at the cost of environmental degradation, which can never be recuperated overnight.

The financial wizards of the state, are now in a fix and have to possibly satisfy themselves in a shoe-string budget. It is indeed a lesson to be learnt in a hard way by the government, in taking for granted of the coal resource and also other minerals such as limestone, which cannot be taken for a ride. In fact the state government had prepared a policy on mining of minerals since the year 2012, but strangely enough, this policy had been kept in cold storage, less it offend the coal barons, who have been given a free hand in the exploitation of the miners, without any reserves.

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Polluted Kopili's Dark Shadows Over Cachar Paper 

The only PSU of Barrack Valley that is dependent on the mines of Jaintia Hills which had been directly responsible for the death of many rivers in the region.A first-hand account of the direct co-relation of the ensuring Ban by National Green tribunal and the Cachar Paper Mill.Impending coal crisis looms large over Cachar Paper Mill located at Panchgram in Barak Valley

It may sound incredible, but is true. Pollution of the far away Kopili river has cast particulearly dark shadows over Cachar Paper Mill at Panchgram in Barak Valley. The only public sector undertaking in the south Assam established in 1988, has an annual capacity of producing 1 lakh metric ton of writing and printing paper, providing direct and indirect employment to hundreds of people and contributing towards the economy of the region.

Ironically the Kopili river originating in the Meghalaya plateau and flowing through the Karbi Anglong, Dima Hasao, Kamrup and Nagaon districts has been severely affected by unscientific coal mining in its upper reaches in Meghalaya leading to acidification of the river which has, in turn, left a part of the river’s course biologically dead, making the water unfit for human consumption and leading to frequent outages at the Kopili Hydro Electric Project dams. Besides, several other streams and rivers have also been polluted. Significantly, the river is the source of drinking water in the lower reaches of Dima Hasao and other districts.

According to the state,it is 3.4 million m.t while the owners of mines claim it to be 9 million m.t

In view of the seriousness of the problem, All Dimasa Students’ Union filed a petition before the National Green Tribunal(NGT) against the evil effects of rat-hole mining. NGT headed by Swatanter Kumar and Ranjan Chatterjee, consequently issued an order dated May 19, 2014, that directed the state of Meghalaya to ensure that the unscientific and illegal mining is stopped forthwith throughout the state and any illegal transportation of coal suspended until further notice. After thorough examination and on the spot verification, the Tribunal found serious air, water and environmental pollution due to unregulated and indiscriminate mining. Streams and underground water have been severely contaminated, jeopardizing environment and human health.

From Jyoti Lal Chowdhury

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Great Expectations cloud over Modi regime’s Goodwill


Swati Deb


The good old saying, the beginning does not know our end seems to work in perfect harmony with politics. Politics is also an art that cannot be predicted. Thus, the political journey of country’s 15th Prime Minister Narendra Damodardas Modi exemplifies these definitions. Son of a tea seller from a little known Gujarat township, Vadnagar, Modi’s rise is also significant as he belongs to a lower caste.

 In the words of BJP spokesperson, Pinki Anand, Modi represented “different aspirations to different sets of people”. Thus the catchword for his government would be more than mere performance – probably it’s called miracle. People of India, now given a new phraseology ‘aspirational India’ needs answers to job shortage, electricity crisis, high food prices, corrupt babus and cops and basic amenities in villages. These could be tough order as only recently Mckinsey Global Institute report said that nearly 56 per cent of Indians – that is about 680 million people cannot afford basic needs like food, water, housing and sanitation and health care. Another survey had said, nearly 70 per cent of Indians are dissatisfied with the country’s sense of direction in the new world order and an underperforming government regime practically at every stage. 


"The new Prime Minister Modi, who campaigned tirelessly in the northeast, has tried to understand the ‘security’ as well as ‘foreign affairs’ elements vis-à-vis north east"

So we know; where the shoes would pinch Modi. Broadly there would be few areas he has to perform quickly and with results coming much quicker. The growth graph has to change from near around 4 per cent as of now, the prices of essential commodities at least should remain where they are even if they cannot come down and he has to ensure that minorities are not let down.
“So far, he has been making right noises,” says a senior political commentator Jose Kavi, who refers to his maiden Parliamentary speech in both Houses of Parliament as fairly accommodative and inclusive.

Others say, one major difference between Narendra Modi and his predecessor Dr Manmohan Singh is that the present incumbent enjoys far greater mandate and thus greater authority than Manmohan Singh, who was too dependent on the whims and fancies of Congress president Sonia Gandhi and her sets of advisors.

One vital fact that came to Modi with the landslide victory is that the new Prime Ministers needs to take along the disgruntled segment of 18 per cent of Muslim population into his mainstream. The bigger challenge perhaps from a northeastern perspective is similar apprehensions remain about the Christian tribal populace of the northeast India. It is only obvious as the people of northeast are easily vulnerable “to be misled to plunge into violence” and also embrace the easily available route of militancy.


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Mine Games


The National Green Tribunal ban of rat-hole mining and the livelihood issue in Meghalaya

 

Shnongpdeng in the Amlarem Sub Division of Meghalaya is one village on the banks of a river where the people and the river still blissfully coexist. The village which is situated on the banks of the river Umngot is busy throughout the year as the little hamlet is always thriving with activities ranging from fishing to water sports. Dapmon Syngkrem, the owner of Shatsngi home stay in Shnongpdeng says that they provide water sport activities like scuba diving, rafting, boating, zip lining and even rock climbing for tourists, and visitors from all over the State and even from abroad have visited the place. “We also give boats on hire for anglers who came to fish in the river of the village. Throughout the year people of the area spend their time fishing and most of them earn their livelihood from fishing,” says Bnai Syngkrem the headman of the village. 

The water level on Umngot has risen because of the recent heavy rainfall and the river is crowded with anglers both men and women and some even take their boats and row some distance to catch more fish. Shnongpdeng is a village through which Umngot flows before it crosses the border to Bangladesh and the river still has clean and crystal clear water. 

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