Politician can engage in legal business, asserts PHE minister

SHILLONG, Sep 14: With the name of Cabinet Minister, Renikton Lyngdoh Tongkhar surfacing as one of the owners of a coke plant, the minister went on the defensive on Tuesday asserting that there was nothing wrong if a politician engages in a business under the legal framework. “It is being done as per the law and I don’t own the coke plant fully. My family and friends are doing this business and I am just a part of it,” Tongkhar said.
Asserting that he was against any illegal coke plants, the minister said, “Setting up of any coke factory has to be within the rules and all the rules must be followed.”
According to information obtained under the RTI Act, the PHE minister is the co-owner of the North East Carbon Industries located at Pther-Salang. The factory is under construction. The other co-owners of the plant include Manoj Kumar Jajodia, Kishan Jajodia and Bunsing Sohphoh.
Meanwhile, reacting to the news report “Govt gets five-day deadline” in The Shillong Times, the State Level Environment Impact Assessment Authority (SEIAA) and State Expert Appraisal Committee (SEAC) has clarified that they are independent authorities, notified for all states/UTs by Union Ministry of Environment, Forest & Climate Change for implementation of EIA Notifications 2006, in respective state, comprising of senior, experienced, non government domain experts, in their respective field, except for Member Secretary, who are deputed from state department of forest and environment.
Both SEIAA and SEAC have no role whatsoever, to play, in case of coke industries being granted Single window, CTE, CTO etc, including functioning and monitoring. Moreover, both have no authority or mandate to arbitrarily interfere in all environment related issues, except in specific cases of category B projects where a project proponent approaches for grant of EC, under EIA Notification, 2006.
Contrary to the false comments by TUR, SEIAA & SEAC in fact rejected proposals of few coke industries, seeking environment clearance. This action was taken as per Schedule of EIA Notification 2006, PARA 4(b), wherein it is clearly stated that coke industries with approved production capacity of 25,000 MT per annum and above are only liable for environment clearance. This action was duly endorsed by MoEF&CC vide email dated April 29, 2021. Production capacity of all the applicants was below the threshold limit of 25,000 MT per annum and hence all proposals were summarily rejected by both SEAC and SEIAA.
Further, entire process from filing of application by a project proponent to grant/rejection of EC is totally online, uploaded in MoEF&CC portal PARIVESH to maintain total transparency and accessibility for all citizens of India, wherein the entire documentation and process flow, basis of decision, relevant conditions etc for each individual case, state wise, is available in the portal.
“The sweeping statements by TUR without verification of the truth are liable for legal defamatory action for casting baseless innuendo to tarnish the image and reputation of members representing both SEIAA and SEAC,” the statement said.

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