High Court rejects PIL against Lafarge

SHILLONG: The Division Bench of the High Court of Meghalaya has rejected the PIL filed by Shella Action Committee (SAC) which demanded a halt on excavation and transportation lime stones being carried out by Lafarge.

The Division Bench of Chief Justice PC Pant and Justice TNK Singh in a recent order refused to act on the PIL filed by the Committee against the project of Lafarge Umiam Mining Pvt Limited located at Nongtrai, East Khasi Hills district.

The PIL, which was filed way back in 2007 before the then Gauhati High Court, sought the intervention of the Court alleging various lapses on the part of Meghalaya government.

The SAC also sough a ban on excavation of lime stones.

The PIL came up for hearing recently and senior advocate representing Lafarge VGK Kynta sought the closure of the PIL on the ground that the issues mentioned in the PIL had extensively been dealt with by the Supreme Court on similar related issues in which SAC were a party to the proceedings.

The Division Bench, after hearing the submission of the counsel for Lafarge, passed an order closing the PIL as the issues raised had already been answered by the Apex Court in a case of Lafarge Umiam Mining Pvt. Ltd. versus the Union of India and others.

Earlier, the Supreme Court of India in its judgment of July 6, 2011 allowed the operation of the project of Lafarge by saying that the project will benefit the people of the area and also issued certain directions in this regard.

The leader of Opposition in the State Assembly Dr Donkupar Roy during the Question Hour recently demanded that fund deposited by Lafarge be utilized for purpose of construction of roads and bridges.

In reply, Forest Minister Prestone Tynsong said that the amount deposited by Lafarge so far is about Rs 84.68 crore and an amount of Rs 48.69 crore has been released to the Special Purpose Vehicle Society.

The amount deposited by Lafarge will be utilized for various projects. Moreover, a similar amount of money was also deposited by Lafarge for environment related improvements. Apart from various amount deposited by Lafarge to local authorities, royalty is also being collected by the State Government on transported lime stones.

Sources in the Government informed that royalty is shared between the Government and KHADC in the ratio of 40:60.

In a related case, the PIL filed by Betelnut Growers and Land owners Sohbar Elaka Association seeking closure of Kommoroh Limestone Mining Company Ltd located at Sohbar was also dismissed.

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