Shillong, Sept 13: The Thma U Rangli Juki (TUR) extended support to the Environmental Coordination Committee Elaka Sutnga that held a rally on Monday against illegal coke factories in East Jaintia Hills.
In a statement, TUR said the single window agency helmed by the Chief Minister has subverted and undermined the institutions responsible for protecting the health and wellbeing of the people of Meghalaya.
Under the Environment Impact Assessment Law, the state government is required to assess proposals for small, or category B, coke factories according to strict norms before they grant permission.
These factories also need to have approvals from the State Environmental Impact Assessment Authority (SEIAA) as well as the State Environmental Appraisal Committee (SEAC) to ensure that they are not established close to places of human habitation, wildlife refuges, agricultural land, water sources, and tourist areas. They also have to deploy mitigating technologies to reduce the environmental damage they cause, TUR pointed out.
“The people appointed to these important posts have misused their authority to grant permissions to factories that flout all these rules and even use technologies, such as beehive ovens, that are banned in other countries for their extreme environmental repercussions,” TUR said.
The illegal coke factories have come up in the district in the last few years. In West Khasi Hills’ Shallang too, illegal coke factories are flourishing and blatantly flouting environmental guidelines.
Frequently permissions have even been granted to these factories long after they have started operating. The Environmental Coordination Committee Elaka Sutnga has been protesting these practices for several months, and has repeatedly approached the government, only for their concerns to be ignored.
“We in TUR demand the immediate shutdown of these coke factories. We further demand that severe action be taken against the office holders of the Meghalaya State Pollution Board, SEIAA and SEAC who have abused their power and have allowed these coke factories to proliferate and operate with impunity. We appeal to the people of Meghalaya to stand in solidarity with the brave members of the Coordination Committee for bringing these grave violations to light. We would also like to ask the people in power: where did the coal for these new coke factories come from,” the statement read.