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NONGSTOIN: Following reports about the functioning of coke factories in Shallang area that were highly suspected for using coal to produce coke intended to be transported to other states, it has been found that there are more than 20 coke factories in Shallang that claim to have valid documents and have fulfilled all formalities and norms before commencing operations through single-window agencies.
West Khasi Hills Superintendent of Police Bashan Laloo said that they have no authority to interfere with those coke factories as they have received the permission from the state government through the single-window agency.
Chairman of the Join Action Committee (JAC) Evening Nongsiang, who opposed the functioning of the coke factories, told The Shillong Times that more than 20 factories have been operating in Shallang area and some of them are still under construction.
Nongsiang also said that the JAC knows that these coke factories are operating illegally because they have not yet applied for an Environmental Clearance from the State Environment Impact Assessment Authority (M.o.E.F&C.C), thereby violating the ‘Consent to Establish’ and ‘Consent to Operate’ under Section 25 of the Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act 1974 and Section 21 of the Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act 1981.
The JAC chairman said that despite the Meghalaya State Pollution Control Board’s directions to such factories to stop operating under Section 33(A) of the Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act 1974 and Section 31(A) of the Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act 1981, they are still operational in Shallang area. Therefore, the JAC understood that without clearance from the concerned authority, the factories are operating illegally, he added. He told The Shillong Times that in November last, they had sent the complaint to the District Administration where the SDO Civil Sub-Division of Mawshynrut PD Sangma headed the enquiry team. Nongsiang told that the enquiry team has taken the statement only from the complainant whereas the enquiry for the factory owners is still pending and PD Sangma ADC, however, has assured that they will soon go for spot enquiry and a final enquiry will be made.
The JAC said it hopes for a better result as the factories pose threat to the health of the locals.
Asked whether the factories obtained coal to run their factories, they said that they have no idea.
While speaking with the owners of the factories, who refused to identify themselves, they said that there is no restriction to transport coke anywhere in India as long as they have their valid papers because there is no order of restriction from the Supreme Court or NGT to ban coke.
Asked where they procured coal from, as they run their factories with coal to turn in to coke, some of the factory owners replied that they have no stable supplier but whenever someone offered they bought without hesitation because of the ban on coal mining.