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Geo conservation prog in M’laya
Correspondent SHILLONG, OCT 17:
Published on 17 Oct. 2008 11:36 PM IST
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Lafarge Umiam Mining Private Limited (LUMPL) today announced the launch of a Geo Conservation Programme for protecting the caves at Nongtrai area in Meghalaya. This initiative was part of the broader ‘biodiversity conservation programme’ of LUMPL and reaffirms the company’s commitment to the state. Meghalaya has a number of cave systems and some of them are located in the Khasi Hills, which could potentially become major tourism destination. LUMPL is a wholly owned subsidiary company of Lafarge Surma Cement Ltd. (LSC). LSC is a joint venture company between Lafarge S.A. of France and Cementos Molins of Spain. IFC, ADB and DEG are the major lenders. LSC has set up a cement plant at Chattak in Bangladesh having a captive mines Nongtrai-Shella in Meghalaya. The mining, crushing and export operations in Meghalaya, India are fully integrated with the cement plant operations by way of a 17 km long cross-border fully covered belt conveyor system of which 7 km is in India and the rest is in Bangladesh. As a first step under the Phalangkaruh Cave Geo & Bio Diversity Protection Program, enclosures are being constructed around the entrance of about 125 meters long Phalangkaruh caves to keep it protected. “These measures have been implemented in keeping with Lafarge’s global tradition of preserving and improving its neighborhood communities, leading to socio economic progress while preserving cultural heritage and ecological legacy,” LUMPL Vice President and Director, Narayan Sharma said. Sharma said the company regularly submits all monitoring reports to the Ministry of Environment and Forests and Meghalaya Pollution Control Board in keeping with the Environment notifications. “Chronological survey of the sinkholes and two caves are carried out and these do not reflect any change in their physical appearance,” he said. Stating that Lafarge believes that scientific mining and geo conservation can coexist, Sharma said LUMPL has undertaken several measures for Geo and Bio-Diversity Conservation in the area. Nongtrai village’s Chief B. Lyngdoh lauded Lafarge’s initiatives in developing and protecting the caves and bio diversity of this region. ” Last year, the cement giant company challenged the order of the Union Ministry of Environment and Forest (MoEF) in the Supreme Court asking the company to stop work at quarries on the premise that mining is not permitted in forest areas. However, the Supreme Court (SC) in an interim order allowed operation of the limestone quarrying in forest areas of Meghalaya and supply of raw material to French cement giant Lafarge’s US$255-million cement plant in Bangladesh based on the MoEF’s no-objection.

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