Meghalaya cavers petition apex court - Glare on mining & cement factories

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  • Published 11.04.07

Shillong, April 11: The Meghalaya Adventurers’ Association has filed a counter affidavit in the Supreme Court regarding the Meghalaya government’s alleged failure to protect ancient caves of the state.

The association has also requested the apex court to direct the state not to issue any new licenses to private firms for setting up cement plants that might endanger cave systems in Meghalaya.

The apex court last year admitted the public interest litigation filed by the association and Subhash Dutta, an environmentalist and a chartered accountant from Calcutta. A bench headed by Chief Justice Y.K. Sabharwal had issued notices to the Centre and Meghalaya government to submit their replies within four weeks. The association alleged that rampant mining activity in the vicinity of Kotsati-Umlawan was posing a threat to the cave system in Lumshnong in Jaintia Hills district and many other caves in Meghalaya.

Notices were also issued to the principal secretary, Prime Minister’s Office, secretary to the government of India, ministry of environment and forest, the chief secretary of Meghalaya, the Central Pollution Control Board, the state Pollution Control Board and the chief principal conservator of forests, Meghalaya.

However, the Meghalaya government filed a reply in January, assuring the court that mining activity and cement factories located nearby did not pose a threat to the caves as alleged by the petitioner. The state government also stated that all rules laid down by the Centre for allowing mining activities have been strictly followed.

The association in their counter affidavit alleged that the cement factories belonging to the Cement Manufacturing Company Ltd understated their production capacity and capital investment.

According to the state government’s reply, the company’s production capacity was shown as 900 tonnes per day and the investment less than Rs 100 crore. The court has fixed April 30 for the next hearing.