The ruling Congress in Meghalaya on Thursday urged President Pranab Mukherjee to use his 'power' to modify the applications of the National Green Tribunal (NGT) which recenly banned coal mining in the state.
Meghalaya has three autonomous district councils - Khasi Hills, Garo Hills and Jaintia Hills - formed by Acts of Parliament under the Sixth Schedule of the Constitution to safeguard the rights of the tribals.
"The President has the power to exempt or modify the applications of Acts of Parliament to these three autonomous district councils in Meghalaya under Paragraph 12A(b) of the Sixth Schedule," Congress leaders headed by MPs Vincent Pala and Wansuk Syiem, said in a memorandum to Mukherjee.
"It has therefore become imperative that the Acts of Parliament concerning environment, health, economic sustenance, etc., in relation to the mining and mineral development... need to be critically examined immediately for exempting their application in the three autonomous councils," the petition said.
The petition followed the NGT's August 2 order banning unscientific method of coal mining in Meghalaya allegedly affecting the interest of coal mine owners, transporters and workers. The NGT on August 2, 2014 upheld its April 17, 2013 interim order banning coal mining in the state after observing that the right to life was far more significant than economic interest of a state or an individual.
The exemption of application of the Acts would ensure "that the traditional and customary economic and social pursuits of the tribals continue to remain unaffected by the intrusion of these Acts of Parliament," the petition said.
The petition claimed that the ban not only affected lives of lakhs of tribal people in Meghalaya, but also threw large segments of migrant population out of work. The Supreme Court had earlier banned felling of timber in 1986.
State Congress leaders, including state unit chief and chief adviser to the government DD Lapang, ministers Prestone Tynsong and HDR Lyngdoh and former speaker MM Danggo signed the petition.