SHILLONG: The Meghalaya Mines and Minerals Policy, 2012, has specified that the state has decided to 'encourage' value-added mineral products. To achieve this, the state government will promote and organize trade fairs and similar events and give wide publicity to possibilities of export of value-added mineral products.
"The policy has been formulated with an aim to facilitate systematic, scientific and planned utilization of mineral resources and to streamline mineral-based development of the state, keeping in view protection of the environment, land, health and safety of people in and around the mining areas," the policy, which was introduced in the state assembly, stated.
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The statement added, "The policy will also dwell on ensuring optimal utilization of available mineral resources, realization of vast mineral potential, generate revenue for socio-economic development, uplift the economy of the state and enhance employment opportunities."
"The antiquated and outdated method of manual extraction, not only involves more time, labour and cost, but also constitutes health hazards and risks to human life. Therefore, adoption of modern methods of mining will increase safety of workers and reduce accidents," the mineral policy emphasized.
Meghalaya is endowed with sizeable deposits of a number of valuable minerals. Coal, limestone, uranium, granite, kaolin, clay and glass are the principal minerals found here.
With large areas of the state falling under ecologically fragile zone, mining that involves cutting down and leveling of hill tops and slopes may not only change the natural landscape, but also pose serious threat to environment and ecology. As such, the new mining policy stipulates careful regulation. "Mining operations shall be regulated under the provisions of the existing environmental and forest bio-diversity laws," the policy stated.
"Appropriate measures will be taken to protect forests and maintain ecological balance in mining belts while pursuing mining activities," the policy said, adding that the 'Environment Management Plan' will adequately provide for controlling environmental damage, restoration and reclamation of mined areas.