Odisha Sun Times Bureau
New Delhi, Aug 5:
Why did an Odisha MP raise the question of the ban on ‘rat hole’ coal mining in Meghalaya in Parliament? The issue has surprised many in parliamentary circles and has raised questions about the propriety of an MP using his privilege in an improper manner .
Well known news portal Scroll.in has raked up the matter in a report posted today.
“On April 17, the National Green Tribunal (NGT) banned a practice prevalent in Meghalaya of extracting coal through a process called rat-hole mining. Ever since then, miners and the state government have been fighting against the ban. But on July 22, their efforts got unexpected assistance from Odisha, when Pinaki Misra, a Biju Janata Dal member of parliament from Puri raised the topic in a budget discussion in the Lok Sabha,” the report said.
Misra wanted the Minister of Environment and Forests, Prakash Javadekar, to clarify the ministry’s stand on the Meghalaya stay before a tribunal hearing to be held on August 1 because “it concerns the livelihood of thousands of tribals in Meghalaya, who have been engaged in rat-hole mining which is the mining in their backyard for coal for the past 200 years.”
The report said Misra has a personal interest in the ban.
“He is one of several advocates representing the Meghalaya government at the tribunal hearings. He admitted his interest freely, before he was interrupted by SS Ahluwalia, a Bharatiya Janata Party MP from Darjeeling, who also pointed this out using an unparliamentary word. This led to a minor disruption in the house,” the Scroll.in report said.
“There is no rule in parliament that forbids Misra from raising issues in which he has vested interests, said Subhash Kashyap, a parliamentary expert. But there might be a question of propriety. Should Misra have used his parliamentary privilege to seek a ministerial response in a case that he is involved with?” the report asked.
When Scroll.in asked the BJD MP for his comments on the ‘propriety’ of his query, Misra reportedly got away with a dodgy answer: “I cannot comment on this as the exchange was expunged from the record.”
Interestingly, P Thambidurai, who was the Chairperson of the House when the exchange took place , did not expunge the exchange. He merely expunged one word from the interaction.