Civil society organisation — Thma U Rangli-Juki (TUR) has criticised the proposal to mine limestone at Brichyrnot in East Jaintia Hills and condemned the third attempt to hold a public hearing on the Star Cement project yesterday in Khliehriat, which left seven people injured in a violence that ensued.
Star Cement wants 45 hectares near the Narpuh Reserve Forest for limestone extraction, a project opposed by various pressure groups though apparently supported by a section of locals.
In a press release issued today, TUR slammed the “forceful” attempts by the government to hold a public hearing, which is necessitated by law, despite “the fact that people had reservations and were not ready for it.”
The organisation took a dim view of the opening up of the economy in the early 1990s, as it said that this “gave companies a free hand to exploit the environment and the indigenous populations and their rights”.
This 45 hectare limestone project will threaten the flora and fauna of the nearby Narpuh Reserve Forest, as well as streams and rivers, TUR added.
It also called for all agreements between Star Cement and the Brichyrnot Dorbar Shnong and Jaintia Hills Autonomous District Council (JHADC) to be reviewed and revoked as well as a social audit on cement companies operating in the entire State and audit of all minerals, both major and minor.
Instead of promoting destructive activities like limestone quarrying, TUR said the government should allocate “special funds to uplift agriculture and allied activities and other livelihood avenues” to greener alternatives.