The environment cell of the Khasi Students’ Union (KSU) has urged Chief Minister Conrad Sangma to stop the public hearing to decide on issuing mining lease to Star Cement Company Limited scheduled at Khliehriat.
Calling the public hearing an “arrière-pensée” the KSU said as per several sections of the Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) 2006, the public hearing is “illegitimate and unlawful.”
Through a statement to the media today, the environment cell raised three pointers as to why it is opposed to the public hearing, one of which it is being held amid the pandemic. The KSU stated the public hearing is not prudent as it may pave way for the spread of the virus.
“The place of public hearing has been shifted/ changed to the Deputy Commissioner Office in Khliehriat, East Jaiñtia Hills District, Meghalaya which is far from the concerned area of mining and the local affected persons and others who have a plausible stake in the environmental impacts of the project will not be able to attend the public hearing,” the KSU said, adding that it is illegitimate and unlawful based on the Section 7 (III) (II) (a) and (b) of EIA 2006 since a public hearing is to be conducted at the site of the project or at its close proximity.
The KSU said while several attempts had already been made to conduct the public hearing and that November 21 will be the third time, it said that the people has voiced out their opinion that further expansion of mining project would have adverse affect on the environment which in turn will affect the health and livelihood of the people in that region along with several other major issues.
“However, the concerned authorities this time have strategically and suspiciously placed the public hearing far from the site of the project as to discourage the concerned affected people to be a part of the public hearing and also the number of people to attend the public hearing has been fixed. This is likely to be said that the concerned authorities along with M/s Star Cement are trying to suppress the voice of the public and also forcing the expansion of the mining without really taking the stakeholders and the affected people into consideration,” the KSU said.
Furthermore, the KSU also reiterated that the expansion of mining by M/s Star Cement must be opposed since it would pollute the Lukha River and impact the eco-sensitive zone of the Narpuh wildlife sanctuary. They said that cement factories in Narpuh area has no effluent treatment plants would pollute ponds, lakes and rivers and also cause collateral damage to the flora and fauna present in the area.
Seeking the Chief Minister’s intervention, the KSU said as the whole world is raising the issues of global warming and climate change and restraining the options which hamper the environment, the State too should see that the efforts are made to keep a check at environmental degradation and pave way for sustainable development without hampering the environment.