Pressure groups disrupt public hearing in EJH

7 police personnel injured

JOWAI, Nov 21: The public hearing on the proposed limestone mining at Brishyrnot under Elaka Narpuh in East Jaintia Hills had to be cancelled for the third time on Saturday due to strong protests staged by several pressure groups including activists of the KSU, JSU, HNYF, FKJGP, HANM, EJNC and HYC
The Meghalaya Pollution Control Board (MPCB) had convened a public hearing as per the instructions of the minister of forests, environment and climate change, not at the mining site but in the district headquarters near the deputy commissioner’s office.
Activists from different pressure groups disrupted the public hearing by pelting stones. This was followed by tear gas shots from police personnel at the venue.
In the melee that ensued seven police personnel including two women police personnel were injured. One lady police sustained serious head injuries and had to have five stitches. Some pressure group members also suffered minor injuries due to tear gas shelling.
The public hearing was scheduled to start at 10:30 am on Saturday but pressure groups had parked themselves at the venue from 8:30 am.
They were prevented from entering the hall where the public hearing was to be held. Suddenly members of the KSU arrived in huge numbers and tension built up. The protesters then forced themselves into the venue by tearing into and breaking the temporary construction and managed to obstruct the hearing.
Later the Deputy Commissioner, East Jaintia Hills had to call off the public hearing in order to calm down the agitators who had become very aggressive.
Jersome Shylla, President Jaintia Students’ Union speaking to the media said, “The District Administration has taken the right step in cancelling the public hearing. The mining site of Star Cement is situated just 1. 64 km from the Narpuh Wild Life Sanctuary and .64 KM from the eco-sensitive zone declared by the Central Government.
Cement plants in the area have had detrimental effects on the area particularly on the Lukha River where aquatic life has disappeared in the past few years.”
KSU Organising Secretary, Leningrad Tariang also said, that the protest against the public hearing is for protection of the environment, not just for the present generation but for the next generation as well.

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