Lafarge Umiam Mining, a subsidiary of the French giant Lafarge, has been accused of ignoring the Supreme Court's stay on its mining activities in Meghalaya. The company has, however, denied any violation of the court order.
“Lafarge has been carrying on quarrying activities, the conveyor belt has been constantly operational and the local people have been seeing extensive crusher unit activities, especially at night,” according to the Shella Action Committee (SAC).
The committee is formed by a group of people living in and around the village of Shella in the East Khasi Hills. It filed a petition alleging that Lafarge's mining activities violated the constitutional provision against handing over tribal land in the northeast to non-tribals, as well as the court ruling against tribal land being used for mining. The SAC also alleged that Lafarge had obtained environmental clearance, falsely showing thickly forested land as wasteland. The Lafarge mine provides limestone for the company's cement plant across the border in Bangladesh.
On February 5, the court stayed Lafarge's mining activities at Shella till March 19, and asked the company to respond to the allegations. However, it has not adhered to the order, according to SAC legal adviser B.M. Roy Dolloi. “Conveyance and crushing have continued during the stay period,” he said.
A Lafarge spokesperson “categorically confirmed” strict compliance with the court order, saying mining had been suspended as directed. However, he said, “it may be pertinent to note here the court had, while temporarily restraining the mining operations till next hearing, very sympathetically considered our position and allowed the movement of the stocks of already mined material lying at the source in the interim.”
The hearing was scheduled for March 19, but has now been postponed.