The East Jaintia National Council (EJNC) has requested the Chief Justice of the High Court of Meghalaya, Biswanath Somadder, to take suo moto notice of a third attempt by the Meghalaya Pollution Control Board (MPCB) to hold a public consultation on a proposed limestone and shale mining project, which the pressure group says is an attempt to force through the project despite massive public opposition.
The petitioners refuse to allow for a consultation because they strongly believe that approval for the project will be given no matter what the public feel and therefore the consultation is nothing more than a formality. They therefore want the High Court to stay the public hearing.
In providing background to the Chief Justice, the petition says that Star Cement wants to set up the new project on 42 hectares of land in Brishyrnot, East Jaintia Hills, close to the protected Narpuh Reserve Forest. This would threaten rare flora and fauna and further worsen conditions in the already polluted Lukha River.
As part of Environment Impact Assessment rules, a public consultation must be held before the project can go ahead but the public have been adamant in opposing the Star Cement venture, the petition said, and opposed the holding of a public consultation at Brishyrnot in October 2019 and then at Lumshnong, 5km from the site of the proposed project, in January 2020. Now, the MPCB wants to hold a consultation in Khliehriat on November 21. In addition to being 25km away from Brishyrnot, the EJNC complained that, “taking advantage of the Covid situation”, the administration has only allowed 100 people to gather for the public consultation.