Shillong, Dec 27 (IANS) Nine cement plants in Meghalaya are being run on forest land, report by a team appointed on Supreme Court's directions said here Thursday.
The Joint Inspection Team (JIT) found that nearly 50 percent of the surveyed land under the nine cement plants in the Jaintia Hills district was classified as forest.
"Out of the 2,150 hectare inspected, 838 are forest, 1,254 non-forest and 58 unresolved," said the report submitted to state government.
The nine companies are Adhunik Cement, Amrit Cement Industries, Cement Manufacturing Company, Cosmos Cement, Green Valley Industries, Goldstone Cement, Hills Cement, JUD Cements and Meghalaya Cement.
The JIT was constituted in July 2011 and the inspections were carried out between March and June this year.
However, another 1,142 hectares under cement plants was not surveyed.
The JIT team had chief conservators of forests, officials of state forest and environment department, revenue departments, district administration, police and Jaintia Hills Autonomous District Council.
The report said an independent surveying agency must assess the mine areas of the plants since most mines "prime facie are larger in extent than shown in map or lease grant to them".
It said plants showed mines under five hectares since anything larger would require clearance from the ministry.
"Proper and permanent demarcation of leasehold was not found in many cases. Therefore, confirmation of the extent of the area exceed by a company, though may be time-tasking and an enormous exercise, is an immediate requirement to be undertaken by an independent surveying agency," the report said.
It also said that most of the companies were in the last phase of their plants' construction and were changing the physical feature of the land to the extent where "evidence of its past nature are lost".
Opposition Nationalist Congress Party had recently asked the ruling Congress to shut down cement plants operating in forest areas in violation of the Forest Conservation Act.
--Inda-Asian News Service