NGT proves House panel right on coke plants: AITC

SHILLONG, Dec 16: The state unit of All India Trinamool Congress (AITC) said the National Green Tribunal (NGT) order asking the state government to send a reply on the illegal coke factories under Elaka Sutnga substantiated the findings of the Meghalaya Assembly Committee on Environment.
“During a visit a few months ago, the members of the committee had found the mushrooming of coke factories in areas under Elaka Sutnga,” AITC Meghalaya spokesperson, HM Shangpliang, who is also a member of the committee, told reporters on Thursday.
According to him, while three to four units were found to be legally operating, as many as 30 others were functioning illegally. “We had brought the matter to the government’s notice and asked it to immediately close down the illegal factories,” he said.
There was a lot of resentment among locals. Various NGOs had hit the street in protest and written to the government demanding strict action, Shangpliang said.
He said Forest and Environment Minister, James PK Sangma had also visited some of these areas and issued orders to the district administration for the closure of the illegal plants.
“But, surprisingly, these coke factories are still functioning despite instructions or orders from the district administration. We really do not understand who are patronizing these,” a member of the committee said.
Now that the NGT issued the order, he hoped the administration will close down the factories operating illegally.
He said the question of burying the issue by the government does not arise since everyone can see these units. According to him, the black soot that comes out along with smoke is affecting the respiratory system of locals.
“The NGT has taken note of the issue. I hope the government will take action against all those who are involved in running these illegal coke factories,” he added.
After hearing a petition filed by the Environment Coordination Committee (ECC) of Elaka Sutnga, the NGT recently directed the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, Government of Meghalaya, Meghalaya State Pollution Control Board, Deputy Commissioner of East Jaintia Hills and State Environment Impact Assessment Authority to file counter-affidavits within four weeks.
In its petition filed on October 25, the ECC had alleged that the coke plants in Elaka Sutnga were polluting the environment.

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