The State government has said that an action plan as per the order of the National Green Tribunal (NGT) has been framed on November 23 regarding illegal coke plants and the plan is expected to be implemented within a month from the date of its notification.
This was informed by Advocate General Amit Kumar before the division bench of Meghalaya High Court today during hearing of a PIL filed by Shailendra Kumar Sharma.
It may be mentioned that the NGT on July 8, 2022 had directed the State government to take appropriate action to frame an action plan regarding the offending coke oven units established prior to December 23, 2020 to make them compliant of the siting norms laid down in the notification dated December 23, 2020.
The NGT had also stated clearly that “such action plan and its implementation shall be carried out within a period of four months.” It had also directed the State government to recover environmental compensation from the coke plants “according to procedure established by law.”
The High Court in today’s hearing pulled up the State government for delay to prepare and implement the action plan as per the NGT order.
“Clearly, the State is in breach as the action plan was prepared beyond the period of four months and its implementation is expected to be completed, if at all, by December 22, 2022, without seeking any extension of time or leave from the NGT,” the court said.
On the order by the NGT to the State government to recover environmental compensation from the coke plants “according to procedure established by law”, the High Court also today directed the government to take appropriate steps on the matter.
The High Court also asked the State Pollution Control Board to maintain a strict vigil “to ensure that the environmental norms are not violated and, if violated, immediate appropriate action is taken”.
The next hearing of the matter will be held on February 27, 2023.
It may be noted that the full bench of the High Court in the order passed on a suo motu PIL on illegal coal mining on December 7, had stated that there were several coke oven plants and ferro alloy plants operating in the State without indicating the source of coal obtained by such plants.
The High Court had also directed the State government to ascertain the source of coal used by such coke oven plants and ferro alloy plants so that the rampant illegal coal-mining that continues in the State and continues to be reported in the press is stopped.