Wednesday, February 21, 2024

JSU questions green nod to Star Cement


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SHILLONG, June 16: The Jaintia Students’ Union (JSU) has claimed that the Meghalaya State Pollution Control Board had recommended environment clearance to Star Cement Meghalaya Limited for mining limestone and shale at Brichyrnot village in East Jaintia Hills district.
The JSU’s assertion on Wednesday came a day after Chief Minister Conrad K. Sangma distanced himself and his government from the green nod issued to the cement firm by the Union Minister of Environment, Forest and Climate Change.
JSU general secretary Treiborlang R. Suchen slammed Sangma for not admitting that MSPCB had given its recommendation based on which the Environment Ministry gave its clearance.
“During our meeting with the East Jaintia Hills Deputy Commissioner today (Wednesday), it was clarified that the MSPCB had given recommendation for granting environmental clearance to Star Cement,” he said, decrying the use of power by the government to suppress the voices of people who are directly affected due to mining activities.
“The JSU will not allow this forceful act of the government that goes against the land tenure system in Jaintia Hills as provisioned under the Sixth Schedule,” he added.
Questioning the silence of the Jaintia Hills Autonomous District Council on the burning issue, Suchen wanted to know how the village authorities of Brichyrnot had granted the no-objection certificate to Star Cement without the knowledge of the council.
The CM had on Tuesday said the state government had no involvement in the environmental clearance granted by the Union Ministry.
The JSU had given a 24-hour deadline to the East Jaintia Hills DC to clarify the environmental clearance to Star Cement.
Former Khasi Hills Autonomous District Council CEM, PN Syiem opposed the green nod and said the Union Ministry disregarded the opposition of the people to the proposed mining.
“The time has come for the JHADC Executive Committee to exercise its power as provided in the Sixth Schedule of the Constitution to oppose the environmental clearance,” he said.
According to him, the autonomy provided under the Sixth Schedule will be supported by the Instrument of Accession and Annexed Agreement, 1947, which empowers the JHADC to have control over the land falling under the scheduled areas.
The Khasi Students’ Union waded into the issue and sought to know whether the Centre was ignoring the state government, the Autonomous District Councils, the traditional bodies and even the voices of the citizens. “This is totally unacceptable since we are in a democracy,” KSU president Lambok Marngar said.
He said that the state was not benefitting since the price of the cement was cheaper in Assam compared to Meghalaya and the cement plants were polluting the water bodies and the environment.
Marngar said the KSU would soon meet other pressure groups and its unit in Jaintia Hills to discuss and plan the next course of action against the green nod to Star Cement.


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