Guwahati, Oct. 16: The Krishak Mukti Sangram Samiti (KMSS) will move the National Green Tribunal against Dispur’s alleged inaction to a central directive to close down three cement plants situated close to Amchang wildlife sanctuary on the city’s outskirts.
KMSS president Akhil Gogoi told reporters here that the Union ministry of environment and forests had asked Assam principal secretary (forests) Kumar Sanjay Krishna, in a letter dated August 27, 2013, to close down Raksha Cements, AG Cements and CMCL Cements.
“The three cement companies have been inspected by B.S. Kharmawphlang, CCF (C), and scientist S.C. Katiyar on August 20, 2013. They have reported that these companies are situated within 10km radius of Amchang wildlife sanctuary, which is within the eco-sensitive zone. This is a clear violation of the Supreme Court guidelines. You are, therefore, requested to get these cement plants closed immediately in the interest of wildlife conservation,” the letter, copies of which were distributed by the KMSS, states.
Akhil said on the basis of the letter, N. Ahmed, secretary to the Assam environment and forest department, asked the divisional forest officer of Kamrup (East) division, Amal Sarma, on September 26 to take immediate steps for closure of the three plants but the order was yet to be enforced.
“As the state forest department is yet to close down the three cements plants, we have decided to move the National Green Tribunal and launch an agitation for immediate closure of the units,” he added.
The KMSS and some citizens’ groups have been demanding closure of the cement and coke plants operating in the proximity of Amching (78.64 square km) and Pobitora (38.80 square km) wildlife sanctuaries as these have an adverse impact on wildlife and ecologically sensitive areas. The two sanctuaries, situated on the eastern fringe of Guwahati, are home to animals like rhino, leopards, flying fox, slow loris, Assamese macaque, hoolock gibbon and many rare birds.
“The CMCL Cements, which sells Star brand cement, is about 2km aerial distance from Pobitora and 4km from Amching. The KMSS will continue to oppose any industrial activity having an adverse impact on our eco-sensitive zones,” Akhil said.
Sarma told The Telegraph that he had written to Dispur seeking legal advice from senior government advocates before enforcing the order. “According to the Wildlife Protection Act, the DFO (wildlife) should take steps for closure of any such units. But since I have been asked to do so, I wrote to the state government on October 10, seeking legal action before enforcing the order,” he said.
Akhil also alleged that the Pollution Control Board, Assam, had given no-objection certificates to these cement units though the Union ministry had asked all states to ensure that no industrial activity was allowed within 10km radius of eco-sensitive zones.
KMSS leader Akhil Gogoi will sit on a fast tomorrow in front of the office of Kamrup deputy commissioner demanding action against three businessmen who allegedly misused agricultural land for non-agricultural purposes in the district. He will also stage similar fast in front of the Kamrup superintendent of police’s office on October 19.