SC refuses to lift ban on mining by Lafarge in Meghalaya

A special forest bench headed by Chief Justice K G Balakrishnan said, ''Till the time appropriate reports (on damage to environment) are submitted by the MoEF, we are not inclined to accept the report of MoEF and permit the mining.''

The court asked the Ministry of Environment and Forests (MoEF) to prepare a report about detailed and comprehensive bio-engineering plan.The MoEF had last week, submitted in an affidavit before the court, that it had given a go-ahead to mining activities on the condition that the company work for the welfare of the locals.

Besides, the bench also directed Lafarge Umiam Mining Pvt Ltd, sister concern of France's Lafarge, to come out with a time-bound plan for conservation of flora and fauna of the the region, apart from the comprehensive bio-diversity plan.

The MoEF had directed Lafarge to deposit Rs 90 crores for the creation of a Special Purpose Vehicle, which would be headed by the Chief Secretary of Meghalaya.
The development projects, which will be solely for the local community and welfare of the tribals, could be in areas such as health, education, economy, irrigation and agriculture.
The MoEF submission came after the apex court had on April 12 directed it to take a final decision on the revised forest clearance for the 116 hectare limestone mine area in the Khasi Hills Forest area of Meghalaya.

The apex court on February 5 had stopped Lafarge from carrying out limestone mining in Meghalaya for its cement plant in Bangladesh, saying mining in the environment sensitive zone cannot be allowed.

The Bench had stayed mining activities on the basis of a MoEF report, which had said that the company was extracting minerals from the land falling in the forest area.The 255 million dollar Lafarge Surma Cement project at Chhatak, in Bangladesh is wholly dependent on limestone extracted from East Khasi Hills of Meghalaya.Limestone is transported from Meghalaya to Bangaldesh in a 17-km-long conveyor belt.

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