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Lafarge ordered to stop mining in Meghalaya
Correspondent SHILLONG, FEB 6
Published on 6 Feb. 2010 11:23 PM IST
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Lafarge Umiam Pvt Ltd was ordered to stop its mining activity in Nongtrai and Shella village, Meghalaya by the Supreme Court yesterday after an organisation claimed it’s “illegal mining” activity was reducing the area, once having the highest rainfall in the world, into an arid land. The Supreme Court passed the order vacating its earlier interim order passed in 2007 which allowed the subsidiary of French cement giant to carry out its mining activity in the area. The Shella Action Committee (SAC) filed a petition in the Supreme Court in 2008 after the Union Ministry of Environment and Forest in its letter dated 30.04.2007 directed Lafarge Umiam Pvt Ltd to close its mining activities. The letter stated that the company has “fraudulently” obtained Environmental Clearance by “falsely declaring the lands as “non forest lands” and “wasteland” whereas on a spot inspection it was found that the lands are covered by thick natural forests.” Somiran Sharma Counsel for SAC told the Assam Tribune over phone from New Delhi that it was petitioned before the Apex court that if such illegal mining activities continued then it would have “disastrous result on the Environment and Ecology of the area. “Both Shella and Nongtrai village are part of the Shella Confederacy which falls in the East Khasi Hills District – the home to the wettest places on earth namely, Mawsynram and Sohra (Cherrapunjee). It was also pointed out to the Court that because of these large scale illegal mining activities the rampant deforestation, the region is facing acute water shortage. “The company systematically abused the administrative processes for obtaining sanctions for such transfer of land in contrary to the provisions of the ‘Meghalaya Transfer of Land (Regulation) Act, 1971’ and thereby unlawfully dispossessing the Scheduled Tribals of their Lands and further mortgaging the said Tribal Lands in favour of Foreign Banks,” said the Supreme Court lawyer. The Supreme Court while ordering halt to mining activity has said that the next hearing of the case would be held on 19 March this year.

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