Bangladesh bound Bhutanese coal stranded in India following SC order

Bhutan exports coal to Bangladesh via India as per the South Asian Preferential Trade Arrangement, an inter-governmental group formed by the SAARC.

Published: 18th January 2019 10:57 PM  |   Last Updated: 18th January 2019 10:57 PM   |  A+A-

Image for representational purpose only of coal. (File photo: AP)

By PTI

SHILLONG: Trucks carrying coal from Bhutan and bound for Bangladesh has been stranded at an integrated check post (ICP) in Meghalaya following the Supreme Court's order banning transportation of the extracted fossil fuel in this state, an official said Friday.

Bhutan exports coal to Bangladesh via India as per the South Asian Preferential Trade Arrangement, an inter-governmental group formed by the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC).

"Thirty-three trucks laden with coal of Bhutan origin are stranded at Dawki ICP from January 15 as Indian customs stopped their entry to Bangladesh following the Supreme Court order banning transportation of coal," Meghalaya International Exporters' Chamber of Commerce Secretary Dolly Khonglah said.

Khonglah said she tried to convince customs officials at Dawki ICP that the Supreme Court's order does not apply to third country exports with transit through India but they refused to accept the logic.

Bhutanese Consulate at Guwahati in Assam has taken up the matter with the Indian customs and Meghalaya government, officials said.

The 33 trucks were cleared by customs officials for travelling through India at Darranga in Assam's Baksa district.

Darranga adjoins Samdrup Jongkhar town in Bhutan.

Customs officials said they have sought clarification from the Meghalaya chief secretary and the Union finance ministry on the Supreme Court order since it was of a "general nature".

Chief Secretary in-charge P S Thangkhiew said he has already taken up the matter with the competent authorities.

The Supreme Court Tuesday banned the transportation of coal in the state until the next hearing on February 19, refusing to entertain a plea by the miners to transport extracted coal since ban on mining in 2014 by the National Green Tribunal (NGT).

The Meghalaya government then ordered implementation of the Supreme Court order.

The ban followed a coal mine tragedy in the state on December 13 when 15 miners got trapped inside an illegal 370-feet flooded coal mine in East Jaintia Hills district.

Family members of the trapped miners, who are feared dead, are trying to identify a body found 160 feet below the flooded mine by Navy divers, a district official said.

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