Yet another attempt of the Meghalaya State Pollution Control Board (MSPCB) to hold a public hearing at Khliehriat on the intention of Star Cement Company to mine limestone in Brichyrnot area was cut short today.
It may be noted here that there have been two previous attempts, at Brichyrnot and Lumshnong, to hold the public hearing on this contentious issue which did not make any headway.
East Jaiñtia Hills police said seven personnel were injured in the clash while preventing the groups to march to the venue. Stone pelting was also reported and police had to fire teargas to disperse the groups.
Leader of the Hynñiewtrep National Youth Federation, East Jaiñtia Zone Julius Nongtdu, one Philio Pala and another youth, whose identity is yet to be ascertained were also injured in the clash.
Despite the intervention, as the public hearing chaired by Deputy Commissioner, E. Kharmalki was limited to a 100 person, members of the groups were able to break the police barricade, stormed the venue and tear down a part of the temporary pavilion and shouted slogans disrupting the public hearing, police said.
“The crowd which gathered at the venue was adamant and determined to disrupt the proceedings, and despite several attempts to resolve the matter in contention, the efforts remained futile,” Assistant Inspector General of Police, GK Iangrai in a statement this evening said.
Amidst stiff opposition and the intended public hearing not making any headway due to the hullabaloo, the Deputy Commissioner had to announce its cancellation.
Meanwhile, a heated argument also ensued between residents of Brichyrnot who were in support of Star Cement and members of the pressure groups that comprises of the Jaiñtia Students’ Union (JSU), Khasi Students’ Union (KSU), Hynñiewtrep Youth Council (HYC), Hynñiewtrep A’chik National Movement (HANM), East Jaiñtia National Council (EJNC) and Hynñiewtrep National Youth Front (HNYF).
Residents of Brichyrnot accused the pressure groups of infringing upon their rights. They said that the pressure groups were not ready to listen instead chose the path of violence which is not acceptable.
The public hearing was to discuss the proposed limestone and shale mining project of the Star Cement at an area of 42.051 hectares at Brichyrnot village under Narpuh Elaka.