Woman gears up for fight against cement company

By Our Reporter

 SHILLONG: Regardless of the fact that she is a woman, Rinaroi Bareh, a resident of Jaintia Hills on Monday resolved to stand her ground, despite challenges, to oppose the setting up of Nilanchaal Cement Pvt. Ltd at Umlong village in Jaintia Hills.

Accompanied by her father and a small group of villagers, Bareh on Monday spoke to the media and made a firm statement that she will fight against the setting up of a new cement plant in her village.

“We have come here today to meet the press so that our cries will reach the concerned authorities and the company will not get the NOC to set up its plant in the village,” Bareh told reporters here on Monday.

The Nilanchaal Cement Pvt. Ltd is proposing to set up a factory in the village in an area of 250 acres that will produce 1 million ton of cement per annum. The project will also include a 30 MW Captive Power Plant at Umlong village.

Last month, Bareh had raised objection against the setting up of the cement plant at a public hearing held at the village to get the response of the public before granting the Environmental Clearance to the said company by the Union Ministry of Environment and Forest.

Further, Bareh alleged that the agreement made between the Village Council of Umlong and Nilanchaal Cement Pvt. Ltd which was signed way back in 2009 was done in a hush-hush manner without the consent of the villagers.

She also alleged that the headman of the Dorbar Shnong, Pilot Dhar, and secretary Brightstarwell Pamblang signed the agreement without giving any notice or information to the village.

“A copy of the agreement was never given or even shown to the villagers till November 2012 a few days before the public hearing,” Bareh said.

Bareh also informed that there were threat-related instances where agitating villagers were beaten up and threatened for raising their voices by those people who were supportive of the company. There was another incident where a young boy was beaten up when he questioned the village heads about the agreement made with the company.

On the same note, another villager, Stanley Pring confessed that he had voiced his support for the cement factory at the public hearing only because he was told to do so by the headman.

“Taking advantage of my ignorance, they told me that the agreement will benefit the village therefore I supported the company. But after Rinaroi warned us about the destruction awaiting us, I cannot support the company. It is against my conscience to do so,” he said.

Meanwhile, the villagers informed that the land which is rich in limestone and other natural minerals belongs to the village but the same had been promised to the company by the two village leaders in the agreement stating that it was private land.

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