The Meghalaya High Court has rejected the plea for staying the public hearing to be held tomorrow at the campus of Deputy Commissioner Office, Khliehriat regarding the proposed limestone and shale mining project by Star Cement Meghalaya Limited.
Star Cement Meghalaya Limited has proposed to carry out a limestone-shale mining project over an area of 42.051 hectares at Brishyrnot in East Jaintia Hills.
A resident of Lakadong village, Shaniahlang Suchen, has filed a writ petition in the High Court challenging the public notice dated October 16, 2020 published by Meghalaya State Pollution Control Board (MSPCB) regarding holding of the public hearing.
Suchen said that the proposed public hearing is in violation of the notification dated September 14, 2006 published by the Central government under Sub-section (1) Clause (v) of Sub-section 2 of Section 3 of the Environment (Protection) Rules, 1986 which stipulates that the public hearing should be held at the site or its close proximity.
According to him, the restriction imposed by allowing only 100 people to attend the public hearing will also incapacitate interested persons to put forward their concerns. Suchen therefore pleaded that the said public hearing may be held at a later stage at the site or in its close proximity in a normal situation.
During hearing of the case, Advocate General of Meghalaya, Amit Kumar informed the High Court that the public hearing has been postponed from time to time at the instance of certain interested parties and this time too, the process is sought to be scuttled by the petitioner (Suchen) who is not a resident of Brichyrnot, which would not be in public interest.
Kumar pointed out that in the public notice issued by MSPCB, it has been clearly mentioned that the restriction to a maximum of 100 people per hearing was on the basis of the notification issued by the Ministry of Environment Forest & Climate Change, New Delhi in its office memorandum F.No. 22-25/2020-IA.III dated 14.09.2020.
Kumar also pointed out that as far as public representation is concerned, if there are more than 100 people who wanted to be heard, there is always a provision for further and subsequent hearings and as such, the cause of the residents of the affected village will be addressed in due course.
Following the points raised by the Advocate General, the High Court said that it found no substance in this petition filed by Suchen and also rejected the same.