SHILLONG, March 29 (NNN): The Environment Coordination Committee (ECC) on Monday demanded the state government to “dismantle” the 29 coke plants, which have been issued with ‘refusal of consent’.
“We demand the chief minister and the Meghalaya State Pollution Control Board (MSPCB) to issue a necessary directive order to dismantle all the coke plants, which have been issued with the refusal of consent,” said legal adviser of the ECC, Reading War at a news conference.
He informed that the RTI findings have revealed that 29 out of 50 coke plants in Sutnga Elaka under East Jaintia Hills have been issued with the refusal of consent by the MSPCB on different grounds.
He said that it is useless for these plants to be there as consent has been refused for not meeting the said norms provided keeping these plants erected in different places would cause more damage to the environment.
War also warned the government from legalising the coke plants and instead relocating all of them from Elaka.
“I am not inciting any violence here but if the government tries to legalise the coke plants, it would be disastrous in Elaka. This is a message from the residents that we are going to hit the streets again and it is going to be a disaster,” he said.
Stating that they are seeking a total ban on setting up coke plants in the Elaka, War said, “We will fight till there is no single coke plant left in the Elaka.”
He informed that the National Green Tribunal (NGT) has given a directive order to the MSPCB for computation of environmental compensation, costs of restitution and remedial measures as well as a penalty to be imposed for violation of environmental norms to all the erring units.
“The MSPCB should take necessary steps for calculation with regards to the restoration of the environment, penalty and compensations. We request all the persons affected by the establishment of the coke oven plants to come forward with their complaints and claims for compensation to the MSPCB or through the ECC,” War said.
Meanwhile, the ECC demands the MSPCB to immediately send their officials for one month to Sookilo, Umpleng and Umtyra to monitor the coke units that are polluting the environment as per NGT directives for regular checking during the night and take action against erring coke units.
The MSPCB may provide a 24X7 toll-free number for the people to contact for immediate complaints, he said.
As directed by the NGT to furnish the location of the coke plants which are established in the residential area, War said, “The MSPCB should furnish the coordinates or location of these coke plants which obtained Consent to Operate (CTO) prior to the notification dated December 23, 2010.”
“The ECC will strongly protest if the MSPCB tries to manipulate the exact location of the coke plants,” he warned.
War also cited that the exact location of two coke plants namely M/s Syrpai Coke and M/s Jaintia Coke Industries are at Sookilo village, Elaka Sutnga.
“That Sookilo is very much a village recognised by the JHADC under the JHADC Establishment of Village Act, 2015,” he said.
This is because in most of the records the proprietors of these two coke plants mislead the concerned authority in their application form by mentioning that Sookilo is a commercial hub. However, for obtaining SWA they have mentioned it as a village, he said.
“M/s Mahajong Coke LLP, M/s Khlieh Umim Coke, M/s Ioannis Industries Pvt Ltd, M/s Kantalo Coke all are located at Umtyra village. M/s NM Fuels is situated at Moolamylliang not only that it is situated in a nearby residential place but we are also surprised to learn that this said coke plant which was once seized and sealed by the District Magistrate of East Jaintia Hills, Meghalaya for operating without CTO and established without CTE clearly violating all the environment norms but despite all these failures, the MSPCB still issuing CTO or permitting to operate. The ECC demands explanation from the MSPCB as to why CTO was granted,” War said.
The legal adviser further questioned the MSPCB on why the M/s Jaintia coke industries chimney at Sookilo and the M/s Meghalaya coke chimney at Pather Umpleng are not given the refusal of consent like the rest.
“(In fact) M/s Jaintia coke industries chimney at Sookilo have been issued with closure notice for establishing and operating without CTE and CTO and still no refusal of consent issued in this regard. Also, the M/s Meghalaya coke chimney has been already established yet no refusal of consent issued. These two plants as per the record their applications are still kept in abeyance by the board despite applying for CTE without SWA,” he said while demanding the MSPCB to dispose of their applications and issue a refusal of consent to the two plants as done for the others.