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State govt wants Centre to take final decision

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SHILLONG/ NEW DELHI, June 15: The state government has distanced itself from the recent environmental clearance granted by the Union Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change to Star Cement Meghalaya Limited to mine limestone and shale on 42.051 hectares of land at Brichyrnot village in East Jaintia Hills and has put the onus on the central government to take a decisive call on the matter.
Reacting to a query on the environmental clearance, Chief Minister Conrad Sangma said on Tuesday that the state government had sent a detailed report to the central government on an unsuccessful public hearing last year and other details regarding support and opposition to Star Cement’s mining expansion plan.
“The matter is now for the central government to decide,” the chief minister said, while adding that the state government has requested the Centre to take suitable action.
The proposed public hearing in November last year was opposed by the Khasi Students’ Union over fears that expansion of the mining plan would pose a threat to the Lukha river, Narpuh Wildlife Sanctuary, turn forest land into wasteland in the region, threaten animals, human beings and herbal medicinal plants.
Violence had broken out during another public hearing resulting in injuries to seven police personnel.
However, residents of Brichyrnot village have welcomed Star Cement’s proposed mining expansion plan claiming that the village and its surrounding areas have seen some development after Star Cement began its operations there.
Earlier, the Ministry, while grant the environment clearance, said that green field project on 42.051 hectares of private land has no vegetation barring scrubs. The mining also comes under non-coal criteria, it added.
The clearance will ultimately increase cement production in the region, sources in the ministry said. It will also help the Centre’s efforts which are pushing for development of infrastructure and affordable housing in the region.
The company had recently commissioned a grinding unit in West Bengal at an investment of Rs 450 crore, taking its overall capacity to over six million tonnes with a clinker capacity of 2.8 million tonnes.

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