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Coal mining pollutes river

Shillong, Jan. 16: The D.D. Lapang government and the Jaintia Hills Autonomous District Council are being pressured to initiate measures to check pollution in the Lukha in the Jaintia Hills.

In the first week of January, the river changed colour and a few fishes died because of the rampant coal and limestone mining in the Lumshnong area adjacent to the river.

Last year, too, a large number of fishes had died. While the state pollution control board maintained that unscientific coal mining had contaminated the river, local residents said limestone mining and emission of wastes from cement companies in the nearby Lumshnong area had caused the pollution.

The residents said coal mining has been going on in Jaintia Hills for the last 35 years, but it was only after the cement companies came up that they noticed the river change colour. Recently, the state pollution control board officials visited the spot twice but are yet to make the report public.

Concerned over the river pollution, the Co-ordination Committee Against Lukha River Contamination, an NGO based in Jaintia Hills, has set a 30-day deadline beginning last Saturday to make public the findings of the state pollution control board.

Another deadline was set for the Jaintia Hills Autonomous District Council to clean the Lukha in 30 days.

The chief executive member of the council, H. Nongtdu, has already sent officials from the fisheries department to conduct a study and submit the report at the earliest.

The pollution control board, in its report submitted to the government in January last year, said rainwater mixed with coal and limestone had polluted the Lunar river, a tributary of the Lukha, resulting in the death of fishes.

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