Says the Task Force has given a positive report on environment impact

The Centre on Friday pleaded for lifting the stay on mining operations imposed by the Supreme Court on the Lafarge Umiam Mining company in Meghalaya, as there was nothing adverse in the Task Force's environment impact assessment report.

Making this plea, Attorney General G.E. Vahanvati told a three-judge Bench of Chief Justice K.G. Balakrishnan, Justices S.H. Kapadia and Aftab Alam that in view of the Task Force's report, he was presenting a new proposal to allow mining operations.

As per the proposal, “the company will deposit Rs. 55 crore towards five times of the normal NPV (as recommended by the CEC) with 6 per cent interest A special purpose vehicle (SPV) will be set up in four weeks and the user agency will deposit with the SPV Rs. 80 per tonne of limestone mined from the date on which mining commenced.”

The proposal also included certain other conditions to be complied with by the company for carrying out the mining operations.

The Bench, posted the matter for hearing on April 12, asking the amicus curiae to respond to the report, which it took on file.

The report said: “Mining is not having any discernible adverse effect on human health. Samples of water, ambient air quality and stack emissions from crushing units were examined while the mine was in operation and all the parameters were within the prescribed limits.”

The report documented the strong support of the villagers of Shella and Nongtrai for the project.

It said: “The impact of mining on the surrounding villages in Nongtrai and Shella [especially Nongtrai] was found to be very positive and beneficial to the residents, due to the huge amount of cash going to the village durbar and reaching individual households, improving the financial health of the population of the villages.”

Further, “the local population and institutions do not have any problem/grievances with LUMPL [Lafarge Umiam Mining Private Limited] and they want the mining to be allowed to take place and Government of India to give all clearance needed for the same.”

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