Himachal people object to ministry team’s visit without notice

Shimla: People facing displacement with the upcoming greenfield plant of cement maker Lafarge India in Himachal Pradesh’s Mandi district Thursday objected to the visit of the ministry of environment and forests (MoEF) team to the project site next week.

They said the team is visiting the Lafarge’s mining sites without giving the notice in advance to the project affected people.

In a missive to the MoEF, the locals said: “We are shocked at the blatant violation of the high court order that requires that prior notice be given to the local people before the visit of the MoEF’s expert appraisal sub-committee to inspect and hear grievances.”

The committee, according the residents, is scheduled to tour the project’s mining sites Oct 16-17.

Citing the Himachal Pradesh High Court judgment dated Aug 12, the letter said: “The court clearly stated that before visiting the site, a sub-committee of the MoEF should ensure that sufficient notice is given to the people of the area so that they can put forth their views.”

K.G. Thakur, a spokesperson for the Jai Shri Deo Badeyogi Sangharsh Evam Paryavaran Sanrakhsan Samiti, told IANS that despite court instructions, no notice has been given to the project-affected people by the MoEF.

The high court, in its order dated Aug 12, set aside the decision of the National Environment Appellate Authority (NEAA) that revoked the environmental clearance granted to Lafarge.

The NEAA in September last year quashed the environment clearance granted by the MoEF to the company.

A division bench of Justice Deepak Gupta and Justice Sanjay Karol directed the MoEF to reconsider its environment clearance to the project as the previous one had not followed procedures.

The bench remanded the issue back to the MoEF’s expert appraisal committee to further direct a sub-committee to visit the project and mining sites and decide whether to give environment clearance to the proposed plant.

The high court order came after Lafarge appealed against the NEAA ruling.

Lafarge India Pvt Ltd signed a memorandum of understanding with the Himachal Pradesh government to set up a cement manufacturing facility in Karsog and to undertake mining of three million tonnes of limestone.

The high court has also directed the expert appraisal committee to give its report on the project within two months.


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