By Supratim Dey
French cement company Lafargeâ€™s proposed 1.1-million-tonne greenfield integrated cement plant in limestone-rich Jaintia Hills of Meghalaya has hit a roadblock, with locals opposing it on environmental grounds.
This is the companyâ€™s second project that has hit a roadblock in Meghalaya. The first one is Lafargeâ€™s limestone mining project in the East Khasi Hills to feed its cement plant at Chhatak, Sunamganj, Bangladesh. Hundreds of people of the Nongkhlieh, the village where the plant is proposed, yesterday foiled a move by officials of the district council to carry out a survey of the area and warned against issuing any no-objection certificate (NOC) to the company.
Holding black flags and placards, local villagers demonstrated at the site, contending that the proposed plant would lead to degradation of the environment and cause disharmony among the inhabitants of the area.
Lafarge recently obtained single-window clearance from the Meghalaya government and NOC from the Dorbar (traditional tribal village council) of Nongkhlieh village. The protesting crowd also shouted slogans against the Dorbar chief and demanded his resignation for granting the NOC to the company.
A senior official at Lafarge told Business Standard the project plan was at a preliminary stage and the company was conducting technical and feasibility studies to assess various parameters of the project. He said the concerns of locals were unfounded, as the company would bring world-class standards to minimise any impact on environment. "We are a large entity. All our works are open to public scrutiny. So, if we come to North-East, we will surely bring with us advanced technologies for scientific mining and sustainable development," the official said.