A patchwork green and black — hills of glistening coal and forested flats — sprawls over 2,000 sq km in the East Jaintia Hills. The digging, splitting and sorting of coal is ceaseless, as is the coming and going of SUVs loaded with migrant labour. A fine black film covers every inch of Ladrymbai — every aspect of life in this mining town revolves around coal.

Of the 29 candidates for Meghalaya's assembly in the East Jaintia Hills, at least 13 are well known coal mine owners; two have limestone mines. In the constituency of Khliehriat, all five candidates — one each from the Congress and United Democratic Party and three independents — are coal barons.

SHILLONG: The noble initiative taken by the villagers of Narwan Village in East Jaintia Hills to grow oranges rather than engaging in coal mining has now begun to pay rich dividends.

As part of the 41st Meghalaya Day celebration in the city, Governor RS Mooshahary released the Narwan Oranges marketed by the Narwan Village Society of Shangpung area in collaboration with Integrated Basin Development Livelihood Programme Unit, East Jaintia Hills District.

SHILLONG: Despite the introduction of the State Mining Policy, unscientific mining of coal and limestone continue to pollute Lukha river in Jaintia Hills.

The colour of the water continues to remain blue during the entire course of the winter season due to rampant pollution. An official of the State Pollution Control Board said that the Board had in the past suggested remedial measures, both short term and long term, to address the issue of the river water turning blue.

SHILLONG: Despite the guidelines related to the safety and security of miners stipulated in the Meghalaya Mines and Minerals Policy, 2012, no scrutiny is being undertaken by the concerned authorities to ensure the safety and welfare of the miners.

Considering that there are frequent deaths and injuries to the mine workers including the recent case of deaths of five miners in Jaintia Hills, there is a ‘grey area’ in the mining policy as nothing specifically is mentioned about the compensation to be paid to the mine workers in case of accidents.

Approximately 39 per cent of the land under nine cement plants in Meghalaya has been found to be a ‘forest’ area, a report by a team formed after a directive from the Supreme Court has indicated.

The joint inspection team (JIT) was constituted in July 2011 for a probe into alleged violation of environmental norms by the cement plants. The JIT comprises additional principal chief conservator of forest (MoEF) BN Jha and Meghalaya chief conservator of forest CP Marak besides officials from government departments, local tribal councils and the cement plants concerned.

The issue of child labour in the coal mines area of Jaintia Hills District, Meghalaya has been in the news, posing serious concern and challenges for the State as well as the apex child rights body. The objectives of Dr.

Close to 50 per cent of the land under nine cement plants in Meghalaya are “forest”, said a report of the Joint Inspection Team (JIT) constituted under the directive of the Supreme Court.

SHILLONG: The Megh-alaya Forest Regulation (Amendment) Bill, 2012 has come under scanner for its definition of ‘forest’. The Bill was passed on the last day of the Winter Session of the State Assembly on Friday.

The environmentalists have pointed out that the Bill does not have any retrospective effect and is aimed at giving free hand to destroy the forest cover to divert it to non-forest activities.

SHILLONG: Replacing the 15-year-old state industrial policy, the State Cabinet on Saturday approved the new Meghalaya Industrial and Investment Promotion Policy, 2012 aimed at preventing land alienation and to protect the interest of local entrepreneurs.

Briefing reporters after the Cabinet meeting, Chief Minister Dr Mukul Sangma said the new policy, which replaced the industrial policy of 1997, would also help to empower the local entrepreneurs besides checking rampant purchase of land by industries.

The Cabinet approved the proposed Meghalaya Forest Regulation (Amendment) Bill, 2012 to have clarity on the definition of the areas which would be considered as Forest.