A Rs. 900-crore cement project in Himachal Pradesh, promoted by French giant Lafarge, has lost its environmental clearance, after the National Environment Appellate Authority ruled that the project threatened the local agriculture-based economy and the nearby Majathal Wildlife Sanctuary.

The clearance was granted by the Union Ministry for Environment and Forests in June 2009. A slew of complaints from local villagers and activists spurred NEAA members to visit the site in Mandi district in June this year. After its members inspected the site inspection and held discussions with stakeholders, including the locals, the State government and pollution control officials, the NEAA quashed the clearance of the integrated cement plant and captive limestone mine.

Claim untrue

The NEAA team found that the Environment Impact Assessment report did not sufficiently reflect the strong opposition of the local villagers, and the “dispossession, impoverishment and trauma” attached to their displacement. The company had only got the consent of 16 out of 381 landowners. The team also found that the company's claim that the mining area is not cultivable was untrue.

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