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The Telegraph
Since 1st March, 1999
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Probe into Jaintia Hills cement plants

Shillong, Nov. 29: The high-level committee constituted by the Meghalaya government to probe whether cement plants in Jaintia Hills district have violated environmental norms has submitted its findings on November 25.

However, a senior government official refused to divulge the details of the findings.

Principal secretary (mining and geology department), J.P. Prakash, was the chairman of the committee at the time of submission of the findings.

Initially, the committee was to submit its findings on November 14. However, a letter from the Supreme Court’s Central Empowered Committee (CEC) on November 1 led to its delay. The letter questioned the existence of the high-level committee in view of the apex court’s judgment on Lafarge Umiam Mining Private Limited case.

Government officials said the CEC, in its letter on November 1, had reminded of the July judgment wherein the Supreme Court had laid down certain guidelines.

However, today, the state government replied to the CEC and stated that there was nothing wrong with the high-level committee since it had been constituted since March, much before the apex court delivered its verdict on the Lafarge case.

“The government does not intend to go against the apex court. However, the Supreme Court guidelines emanating out of the Lafarge case will be for future use and for old cases such as the one on cement plants,” the official said.

The official said the government would study the findings of the committee before taking any further decision.

The high-level committee was formed to carry out a fresh appraisal of land being utilised by the cement companies in Jaintia Hills.

It was also mandatory to examine the allegation, whether the area of “deemed forest land” is under use by each of the plants and their mining areas.

Around eight cement companies are operating in Jaintia Hills, and these include Cement Manufacturing Company Limited (CMCL), Meghalaya Cement Limited (MCL), Jaintia Cement, JUD Cement, Green Valley Cement, Hills Cement, Amrit Cement and Adhunik Cement.

The NCP’s youth wing had earlier alleged that most of these companies were in the forest areas besides flouting environmental norms.